Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Mercury 2009: Bat For Lashes, 'Two Suns'

True to my word of about two minutes ago I'm going to start looking at each of the albums nominated for the Mercury Prize this year. So I figured I'd start with the one I know best; my favourite and the one I'd ideally like to win (though I guess this may change when I've listened to them all); Bat For Lashes (aka. Natasha Khan) and her stunning sophmore album, 'Two Suns'. Her fantastic debut, 'Fur and Gold', was nominated for the Mercury back in 2007 but somehow missed out to the Klaxons (...ummm?).
This album is beautiful; that's probably the best word to describe it. Ethereal, languid, delicate melodies on unusual instruments are given extra poignancy with Khan's sometimes wispy, sometimes irrevocably powerful vocals - the contrast is perhaps best noticed in 'Siren Song' where Khan delves between soft, lullaby verses and an almost accusing, aggressive chorus. The album as a whole is essentially confronting both the battle and the unity between herself and her more seductive, blonde-wig-wearing, urban alter-ego, 'Pearl'. The conflict between the escapism Pearl offers and the rationality of Khan is a clear theme throughout. Album-closer, 'The Big Sleep' even sees guest vocals from a fantastically on-form Scott Walker.
The poetic lyrics are bursting with fantastical imagery and metaphors, transporting you to some far-off place which - kind of like Star Wars - feels like it's in a nostalgic past, yet somehow in the future and is hard to place. Perhaps the word I'm looking for is "timeless" - maybe I'm being hyperbolic but something about this album does feel timeless. Inner-conflict, unrequited and requited love, a journey and an ultimate resolution; surely these are all timeless themes? It's a surreal listening experience, and a highly recommended one. You feel as though you've been transported to accompany Khan on this journey of self-realisation, and there's something very intimate about that.
So I'll finish my post about this album in the way I started it; it's beautiful. Fantastic. Profound. Whatever you want to call it. I can't rave about this album enough; Bat For Lashes deserves that Mercury and I'd be more than happy to see the truly inspired 'Two Suns' win.
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Buy 'Two Suns' HERE.


Thomas said...

I have to say, having seen Bat for Lashes last year, they would be my favourite of this year's list as well...
Also I gave Natasha Khan a cake once.

Tara said...

Ahhh I haven't seen them yet, hence even more excitement for Bestival.

Where did you give her a cake?! I'm very jealous. Did you speak to her?