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Bat For Lashes - The Bride (Album Review)

Monday, 04 July 2016 Written by Laura Johnson

Natasha Khan has never embodied a character or concept as completely as she does on ‘The Bride’, her fourth album as Bat For Lashes.

It tells the tale of a woman left at the altar on her wedding day, following the death of her fiancé in a car accident on his way to the ceremony, and her subsequent adventure after embarking on their honeymoon alone. For Khan, the tragedy is a starting point for an exploration of love and self-discovery.

I Do transports the listener to the church with whimsical strings, finding a hopeful bride looking to the union as a cure for her sorrows. Joe’s Dream (Don’t Say Goodbye), preceded by sounds of thunder, leaves the bare bones of the opener behind, with drums pounding like a heartbeat and a simple, repetitive guitar line allowing Khan’s vocals to steal focus. “What does it mean? The bad things that I’ve seen,” she sings, with such frequency that the rhetorical question soon begs to be answered.

In God’s House utilises electronics to maintain the haunting and tormented mindset of The Bride, who has begun to unravel. The theatrics of the story, paired with Khan’s high pitched, vulnerable vocals create an ethereal, doomy soundscape. Honeymooning Alone, which is introduced with the sound of the car crash, is propelled by a menacing guitar melody and rumbling bass as The Bride leaves in the wedding car: “Driving my car in the night/the cans on the road in tailight/and your empty seat by my side.”

Sunday Love picks up where In God’s House left off and over the course of an upbeat and otherworldly four minutes Khan’s falsetto vocals take an optimistic stance against grief and loss. This is short lived, though, as Never Forgive The Angels gives way to bitterness. By the time we reach the spoken word Widow’s Peak, The Bride is on the precipice of losing hope completely. “Is that my soul on fire whirling by?” she asks. “Take a walk man of god, I just wanna die.”

Land’s End emerges like a sunbeam through the clouds.  “Let my soul be free and my spirit fly, to Land’s End,” Khan sings, before looking back in the piano ballad If I Knew, which might as well be accompanied by a montage of past mistakes. The Bride emerges hopeful once more on I Will Love Again, where the drums return the heartbeat to the strength it was on Joe’s Dream: “I was a deer in the lights, I was lost in the waves, but I will love again.”

Closing track In Your Bed is a reflective end to The Bride’s turbulent journey. “I don’t wanna party no more, somehow that scene can be such a bore, I don’t even wanna paint the town red,” she confesses. It’s a revelation from a woman still pining for a love that has expired: “Let’s lay in your bed, and dream together, in a world of our minds, just spending time in your bed, and walk forever, in a silence divine, just spending time in your bed.” The Bride may have accepted her loss, but she still mourns it.

‘The Bride’ completely envelops you. It is an album awash with stunning compositions, both fully fleshed out and minimalist, while the conviction of Khan’s delivery is magnificent.



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