Bat For Lashes
The Haunted Man - CAPITOL
FILTER Grade: 80%
By Ken Scrudato on October 23, 2012
As thrilling as it was getting that first glimpse of the war-painted Bat For Lashes storming a stage back in 2006, there was always a sense that all the exuberance and originality could quite easily take a tumble into crystals-and-pretty-horses earnestness. And indeed, on this third Bat For Lashes album, the quizzical, electro-ized olde Albion folk music that once so charmed us has seen the last of its edges filed down by lots of ostensibly expensive production. It’s a credit, then, to the sheer artistic life force of Natasha Khan (she who is, for all intents and purposes, Bat For Lashes) that The Haunted Man steers clear of all those horrid Lilith Fair clichés. Sure, with so many song titles like “Lilies,” “Horses of the Sun” and “Winter Fields,” one wishes she would just go ahead and write something called “Last Night I Dreamt That I Bombed the Houses of Parliament.” But there’s still something genuinely enrapturing about this collection of bare, pretty confessionals. It’s still, essentially, the music of an outsider; someone who can’t keep her feet on the ground as long as there are clouds to lose her head in. Thankfully, her penchant for cinematic grandiosity and odd sonic quirks—the otherwise wistful title track is punctuated by marching band drums; “Marilyn” cops rhythmic austerity from Cabaret Voltaire—keeps things decidedly interesting. And though one hates to mention the obvious, Ms. Khan is indisputably the offspring of Kate Bush’s singularly English, absurdly romantic eccentricities. Yes, The Haunted Man is mostly a collection of fairly elementary meditations on the heart, but, without a doubt, there is still thunder in Natasha’s soul.