Laneway artist profile: Bat For Lashes
It's easy to lose yourself in Bat For Lashes' emotive landscapes of sound, after all, it's she who is responsible for the majestic 'Daniel'. The British multi-instrumentalist and Mercury prize nominated songstress, otherwise known as Natasha Khan, has a slew of radio favourites under her belt including 'What's A Girl To Do?' from her 2006 debut Fur and Gold, along with 'Sleep Alone' and 'Pearl's Dream' from 2009's Two Suns.
Fast forward to the present day, and we'll find Bat For Lashes has just released her third critically acclaimed record The Haunted Man. Praised by critics for its stark rawness and adept songwriting, Pitchfork called it a "sophisticated blend of art-rock grandeur and synth-pop directness [which] again carries echoes of 1980s luminaries like Kate Bush and the Cure, gleaming with autoharp, Abbey Road–recorded strings, and a continuing exploration of electronics". We couldn't have said it better ourselves!
Taking three and a half years to create The Haunted Man opus, Khan found inspiration by delving into her family history. She felt there was an undercurrent of thinking about one's roots in the air in England as she was writing the record. Khan told Consequence of Sound, "England being my home, where I grew up, I started to really think about the history of England and my family. The fact that my granddad had been through a war, and how did that affect my grandparents’ relationship, and how did that affect my parents’ relationship, and looking at the family tree. And also, at the time there was a lot going on in England. I felt that there was a real resurgence of thinking about the past, the wars, soldiers, and even PJ Harvey’s [Let England Shake] was about war."
Watch the beautifully shot making-of video: Letting Go of Ghosts – Creating The Haunted Man.
But it wasn't all introspective reflection that helped Khan produce one of the Laneway team's favourite records of 2012; she also looked to the future. On 'Lilies', The Haunted Man's opening track, she describes the song to The Sydney Morning Herald as "really joyous, raw in a jubilant, exultant way". While the album definitely still contains Bat For Lashes' trademark dark undertones, it's tracks like 'Lilies' that splash light across the canvas, painting a picture stunningly diverse and separating itself from her previous two releases.
First single 'Laura' is one of 2012's most alluring tracks and we dare you not to be moved whilst listening. Follow up single 'All Your Gold' is equally captivating, but with more of a pop sensibility. It's a progressive buildup complete with subtle guitar throughout, synthesised choruses and splashes of orchestration demanding one's attention. The artwork, meanwhile, is striking. Pitchfork describes it as "naked, un-retouched, and un-made-up, with a similarly naked man draped around her shoulders."
As for the live shows, we're eagerly anticipating Bat For Lashes' return to Australian shores for Laneway shows nationally, as well as pitstops at Auckland and Singapore Laneway Festivals. Add in a couple of sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney and there's no excuse for not seeing Natasha Khan in the flesh this summer.
Bat For Lashes last graced our shores in 2011 as part of the Vivid LIVE festival, which saw her sell out two shows at Sydney Opera House. Our friends at Faster Louder had this to say at the time: "Creating ethereal and imaginative music, Bat For Lashes had a great deal to offer throughout what was a truly strong set". More recently, two sell out shows at London's HMV Forum garnered huge praise from Consequence of Sound whom stated new tracks "shifted from quiet guitar to synth-fuelled flourishes, over which Khan’s cerebral vocal soared to impassioned heights".
We hope you're amped for Bat For Lashes at Laneway because we sure as hell are.
We have a few copies of The Haunted Man to giveaway (CDs) along with Bat For Lashes Laneway Festival sideshow posters. To win, email us at email@example.com and tell us which Bat For Lashes video is your all-time fave. Be sure to include your postal address.