Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man

(Parlophone)


Rating: NNNN


Natasha Khan has never been afraid of melancholy. Both of her previous records were devastatingly desolate, equally suited to solitary late-night meditations or 2 pm still-in-bed consolations. With a title like The Haunted Man and the blundering, self-loathing single Laura (“You’re more than a superstar, you’re the train that crashed my heart”), Khan’s new album finds her unchanged.

But, as always, a sparkling, indomitable force keeps her wits and words together. Her voice is a torch, a perilous beacon, all crackling flame and subtle licks. On Lilies, she starts out whispering and morose before the bass, shattering and fuzzed-out, prods her to exclaim, “Thank god I’m alive!” A pivoting synth line and stuttering drums – a wink at dubstep? – keep eager time on Marilyn.

The Haunted Man is yearning, elegant pop music in line with the past year’s best: patterned and dreamy like Jessie Ware’s Devotion, unrepentant like Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel and as beguilingly honest as St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy.

Top track: Laura

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