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Bat For Lashes - The Dream of Delphi (Album Review)

Friday, 07 June 2024 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Michal Pudelka

Waxing lyrical about the wonder of parenthood is a bit of a high wire act, artistically. At best, it unearths secrets about your own character that may have been hidden since childhood. But at worst it is cloying and indulgent, often drifting into facetious sentimentality. On ‘The Dream of Delphi’,  Bat for Lashes manages to stick the landing.

One of the reasons for this success is that we are not necessarily talking about typical marital bliss, and that gives the album more narrative intrigue. Natasha Khan’s relationship with the father is covered in the lyric-free number Breaking Up (the clue’s in the name), which manages to convey the complexity, difficulty and curiosity of the new world the two individual parents are stepping into.

Here a clarinet solo carries the melody over retro patches and trudging rhythm. This is actually one of the tracks that hews more closely to the sound of her previous album — 2019’s ‘Lost Girls’ — which was a superb retro concept album about teenage vampires in the 1980s. 

And that rather drives home how different this new record is. This is ethereal and evasive, with quiet compositions, detailed personal observations, and tired-sounding songs that explain without words the fatigue that comes with new parenthood.

The title track itself (Delphi is the name of Khan’s daughter) is a wonderful, quizzical treatise on motherhood. Layered singing lines run over digital melodies, and diaphanous lyrics are expertly universal yet detailed: “Soaring, soaring, past cliffs of white / Milk and, milk and hope aligns.”

As the track swells, we find our way to a stop-start rhythm that feels pretty conceptual, like Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight, the track is essentially a long crescendo. And, actually, that Genesis link calls to mind another excellent album with familial themes: Peter Gabriel’s ‘Us’. Like ‘The Dream of Delphi’, that record uncovers hidden personality traits — insecurities and arrested developments — that we hadn’t seen in previous work. High wire acts are impressive for a reason.

Bat For Lashes Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 08 2024 - KINGSTON St John's Church
Wed June 12 2024 - OXFORD O2 Academy 2 Oxford
Tue June 18 2024 - BIRMINGHAM Birmingham Town Hall
Wed June 19 2024 - BRISTOL Bristol Beacon
Mon June 24 2024 - LONDON Barbican
Tue June 25 2024 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Thu June 27 2024 - MANCHESTER Hall, Aviva Studios

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