Musical Monday – The Haunted Man by Bat for Lashes
I have been looking forward to this album for months. Bat for Lashes is Natasha Khan. She has a pretty voice and is very skilled with lyrics and music.
Let’s dive in.
Ah, the first song brings in what I like about Bat for Lashes – her voice. The music is very much in the background here, at least at the start. Khan draws out words beautifully. “Lilies” has some okay beats in it, and around the middle there’s a swell of music, but it dies out quickly. It doesn’t distract from Khan’s voice. I like the words, too – “Thank God I’m alive”, with ‘alive’ getting really drawn out at the second repetition. It works when she sings them.
For some reason, the bass line in the second song “All Your Gold” makes me laugh. There’s a weird sci-fi noise too, later on in the song. Sounds like something from a Super Nintendo game. Fits though. The video makes me want the song to be called “Yoga Dance-Fight Moves” but we live in an imperfect world and I have to come to terms with that:
The Haunted Man seems to be the album where Khan decided the songs would start with an even beat or riff, but all quiet-like while she sings over them. Normally, at three songs in – this is “Horses of the Sun” – I would be irritated. I’m not here, for two reasons. First, Bat for Lashes has earned my trust. Fur and Gold and Two Suns are both very good albums. Two for two is pretty rare in general, and then there’s my nit-picky tastes. Second, these songs don’t all sound the same, they are just starting with similar themes. I can tell them apart instantly.
Oh, right, “Horses of the Sun” was good.
“Oh Yeah” starts just like it says on the tin – with some people chanting ‘oh yeah, oh yeaaaaaahh’ and it is amazing. Then here’s Khan, singing, with some synthed keyboard, I want to say. Parts sound like a synthed string instrument, like a violin. A slight reverb on Khan’s voice and some instances where she overlays her voice with itself really drive the song for me. Probably my favorite so far! Oh yeah (see what I did there? did you need me to reference it? Could you have just gone ‘heh’ and moved on?), you should check it out:
The fifth song, Laura, is one that I’ve heard before. I remember watching some of Bat for Lashes’ live performances. She played a few new songs, this among them. Her voice is more powerful here than in previous songs. She really opens up, if that makes any sense?
“Winter Fields” has exactly the imagery and impressions I hoped it would.
Title track! It has an air of age about it, like the music is modern but some of the sounds within remind me of the pop and crackle of old vinyl or film reels. There’s a bit of marching drum in there, as some male voices fade in, chanting. Ah, and Khan comes in on high notes towards the middle of the song. So good! And it fades out with weird spaceship control room noises. Not sure how I feel about that last part.
It sounds like there’s a clap-machine in “Marilyn” and I don’t love that. Uh, and there’s some weird voices going ‘yoo-hoo’ really high-pitched and sped up, as far as I can tell. In general, I like the vocals and music, but this is probably the worst song on the album.
Hm, the end of the album seems to be falling off. “A Wall” is a little bland. It’s not offensive, it just isn’t anything and that’s not good.
“Rest Your Head “ is good, but it also feels a little…lacking, I guess is the word I’m looking for. It’s no “Oh Yeah” or “Winter Fields” but it is listenable.
Hm, and now I’m torn on the last song, “Deep Sea Diver”. It’s slow, and at times it almost seems like it has the blandness problem. But then, twenty seconds later, I’m really into it and loving it.
Overall, The Haunted Man is great. There are some songs that lag toward the end, but mostly it follows the tradition of good Bat for Lashes albums. Three for three, Ms. Khan. I can’t wait for four out of four.