Bat For Lashes | The Bride | 8/10
‘The Bride’ is what might be called a “concept” album. There’s a central narrative: a woman, whose fiancé dies in a crash enroute to their wedding, takes their honeymoon trip alone. The artwork and song titles like ‘Widow’s Peak’ reinforce the theme of self-discovery. And, yes, there are sound effects and spoken-word interludes.
But this is no ponderous four-LP prog-rock collection of fantasy lands, 20-minute songs, and extended keyboard solos. Rather, the fourth offering from Bat For Lashes is best described as “cinematic” – and not just because it began life as a short film. Musically, too, it draws some inspiration from the soundtracks of ‘Twin Peaks’, ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, Westerns, and Ennio Morricone.
Take the spare opening track ‘I Do’, which pairs Natasha Khan’s ethereal vocals with an omnichord and the occasional swell of a bowed guitar, the brooding ‘Wicked Game’ vibe of ‘Never Forgive The Angels’, the Lynchian nightmare that is ‘Honeymooning Alone’, or the sweeping string arrangements of the woozy ‘Land’s End’ and melancholy ‘In Your Bed’.
Ambitious for sure, but the highlights of ‘The Bride’ come when Khan once again shows off her talent at crafting giant melodies. Like her biggest songs, ‘Laura’ and ‘Daniel’, the synth-driven ‘In God’s House’ and electro-gloom of ‘Sunday Love’ are simply unforgettable. This time, though, there’s something darker afoot, with her crystalline voice perfectly contrasting the music’s threatening undertones. These are no straightforward pop hits in waiting and highlight the attention to detail and complex emotion that run through all 12 songs.
“In this album I am navigating my own psychic terrain,” Khan recently told Rolling Stone. “As a musician, I take the responsibility to connect people and introduce them to worlds that are subconscious and magical.”
With ‘The Bride’ she has done just that.