Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Rating: ★★★★☆

If you’ve been paying attention to the state of music in the indie world, it should be apparent to you that there has been a rise of the powerful female archetype. This year, there have been a number of powerfully female-centric albums that have been released—names such as Cat Power, Metric and Beach House come to mind. Natasha Khan is no stranger to the music scene either—this is her third studio album under the Bat For Lashes moniker, and shows a vast amount of growth for Khan. Stripped down and reliant on vocal power, The Haunted Man is work of fine production and even finer artistry.

At a little over fifty-one minutes, this album is epic in nature, but is gripping upon first listen—it just depends at which point in your first listen that you yield to Khan’s enchanting spell. Some will fall in love upon hearing the opening number to the album, “Lilies,” which is a softer number for Bat For Lashes upon surveying the whole album, but still holds the understated power of this female. The number begins quietly: minimalistic instrumentation of synthesizers and other electronic sounds are held together with Khan’s voice, which easily explores her range. As it progresses, the song builds upon the instrumentation, adding in orchestral sounds to the electronic beat to give it the signature electro-bohemian pop sound.

But if the first four numbers haven’t called your attention to Bat For Lashes, “Laura” ought to, or perhaps you should stop listening. Fairly hard to ignore, this track gives listeners a bit of a break from the pulsating beat that his been effervescing in the backdrop of previous songs and allows you to really focus on what is the main-event of this album: Khan’s vocal strength. Lana Del Ray done right, the song doles out a raw cut of emotional vulnerability that pulls at your heart. It’s quite a dramatic number, tough to follow, but “Winter Fields” does a good job at transitioning to the rest of the songs with it’s mellow, pan-flute sounding intro that transitions into a driving rhythmic section. Another song with overt rhythmic dominance comes a little later with “Marilyn,” whose drum machine beats will have you grooving right along.

With each and every twist and turn of this album, Khan is there with you, her strong presence serving as a guide to traverse the electronic as well as stripped down tunes that are found on The Haunted Man. All the way through its duration, the energy level never falls, or loses your interest. So sit down and have a listen, or maybe a few listens, to this release—maybe you won’t be sitting for too long.

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