Monday, September 17, 2007

Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold

Ed. note: I mistakenly wrote Bats For Lashes with the original draft rather than the correct Bat For Lashes. My apologies. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who so eloquently wrote: "maybe you learn to spell the artists name next time."

Bat For Lashes, "The Wizard"
(YSI link)

Bat For Lashes, "Prescilla" (YSI link)

We've spent a decent amount of time talking about Bjork recently, thought it would be fun to look at few artists who remind me of and have clearly been influenced by the Scandanavian queen . First up is Bat For Lashes, a half-British, half Pakistani 27 year old artist named Natasha Khan who has slowly but surely made a name for herself on the strength of her first album. Fur And Gold, her debut, was released around this time last year in the UK, but it is just got a US release towards the end of the summer on Caroline Records. She has enjoyed quite a bit of acclaim in the UK, where she was nominated for this year's Mercury Prize.

It's an impressive first album, showcasing an artist who has no trouble doing her own thing, experimenting while remaining committed to writing good songs. While one hears some influence from the freak-folk scene or whatever the hell they call it (CoCo Rosie gets named a lot), I'd say that she has as much in common with Bjork as anyone. At times, vocally they sound uncannily similar, both in sound and stylings, for better or worse. You get the extremes of that sort of childish whispering and the almost-shouting, that has become the hallmark of Bjork in the last few years. Khan has also taken from the Bjork song structure, where the early part of a song is quiet and restrained, the following minutes feature a build-up sonically to a peak and then we return to the early, quieter part. There's also the whole sort of weird, masks-and-costumes, girl in the forest thing, which definitely sets them apart.

There seems to be a lot of talk about Khan's music being experimental, but I'd disagree. It's true that this isn't mainstream pop music, but it sounds almost classical to me, with the violins, harpsichords and acoustic guitars. It's a far cry from the electronic sounds emanating from Bjork's studio and may even appeal to more people as a result. For me, the songs are at their best when the haunting lyrics and vocals match up with the music. On "The Wizard," the disturbing and dark lyrics are matched by unsettling drum beats and shakers (or maracas?) that may not be want you want to hear before bed. Of course, "Prescilla" is the most accessible song on the album, with amazing handclaps and the most memorable refrain on the album. I think when the music doesn't do it, the song won't work, as her lyrics are a little too fairy-taleish for my tastes. When the music neither haunts nor

I'm going to recommend this one, mainly because I feel like it seems like the type of album that a lot of people are going to get into. Buy your copy here, see whether you think that this is one of the best albums of the year as many are calling it. It's definitely the arrival of another talented artist that we need to keep an eye on down the road.


Anonymous said...

maybe you check how to spell the artists name before posting

Anonymous said...

try spelling the artist name correctly next time

Tom said...

That was interesting reading - I onlyu really heard about bat for lashes a while ago, but her music's great.