Bat For Lashes
‘The Haunted Man’ (Parlophone)
That much of the media coverage surrounding the cover art of Natasha Khan’s new album saw it as something titillating and NSFW speaks volumes about the way people still think of Bat For Lashes. As if it wasn’t hard enough to make scintillating music, Khan has to put up with industry twerps calling her ‘indie crumpet’ every five minutes. Despite and partly because of that, third LP ‘The Haunted Man’ comes at a time when Khan’s stock has never been higher – this is the opportunity for her to cross over from decent-selling fringe concern to proper icon. And why not do it naked with a skinny bloke draped over your shoulders?
So has she done it? Does the album tick the accessibility box while still putting an inky smudge in the one marked ‘credibility’? First single ‘Laura’ undoubtedly bridges the gap between the mainstream and the cognoscenti with its effortlessly gorgeous and gut-punching delivery, but the casual listener may have to work harder elsewhere. As the title track gradually morphs from delicate ballad to fi sherman shanty to blissful climax it’s hard not to be awed, even if those casual listeners might not find much to keep them. ‘The Haunted Man’ requires your complete attention: no more than Natasha Khan deserves.