I guess if you get invited to open for Radiohead on part of their Rainbows tour, you must be doing something right. Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes received this honour. And you can kinda see why, because one thing that struck me when I first heard this album, was upon hearing the 2nd track “Trophy” (an hypnotic raga that works its magic with a pagan paced chant: ‘Heaven is a feeling I get in your arms…’), I thought: ‘Hmm, sounds like In Rainbows.’ Now don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t. I mean, if Radiohead were a one woman band called Bat For Lashes and had been listening to a lot of Kate Bush and Bjork and Cat Power, and released their debut in 2006 titled Fur and Gold, then it may’ve sounded something like this. With me? Both have employed those little egg-shaker maracas to cool effect. Both try to do inventive stripped back things in regards to instrumentation (especially percussion). Both use lyrics to paint suggestive images that are as meaningful or as meaningless as you wanna make them. Both use atmospheric silence to dim the moody spaces between the core instruments. Both seem old school and contemporary at the same time. And both are beautifully understated. The vocal melodies in “Trophy” when she hits the line: ‘Creatures of love feed…’, or the ‘When you love someone but the thrill is gone’ chorus in “What’s a Girl to Do?” are like torches in a dark forest – you feel safer with them around. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking around your home humming strange mantras like: ‘Tahiti we don’t got no name…’ and ‘There is no turning back…’ and ‘She really loves him, Prescilla’. Whatever the case, like In Rainbows, as soon as this album finished – as if trying to isolate the allusive addictive ingredient – I was compelled to play it again. And again. And again. And again.
(Plus the video for “What’s a Girl to Do?” was one of the coolest/spookiest post-Donnie Darko videos I’ve seen in years…dig it.)
~ DECOY SPOON