Bat For Lashes – Fur and Gold (Caroline)
Review by Alex Ruder
Fur and Gold is the striking debut album from Bat For Lashes, the alias of Brighton-based singer/songwriter and former nursery school teacher Natasha Khan Evoking early comparisons to established heavyweights Tori Amos, Bjork, and Kate Bush, as well as indie luminaries CocoRosie and Joanna Newsom, Khan proves worthy of such high praise, showcasing a bold artistic vision over a sublime twelve-song set.
The beauty of Fur and Gold lies in its emotional intensity. Built around haunting atmospheres, unique instrumentation, and a mesmerizing balance of anthemic choruses and fragile ballads, the approach owes a significant debt to her adventurous predecessors, particularly Tori Amos. While the general sound may be far from original, Khan’s confident compositions and commanding voice yield results that are undeniably powerful and downright captivating.
Instantly transporting the listener to a mystical location with a stirring minor-key harpsichord, album opener â€œHorse & Iâ€ spotlights the key ingredients that make Bat For Lashesâ€™ music so seductive: a heavy reliance on the harpsichord, tribal percussion, hypnotic melodies, and ethereal vocals. The song chronicles a dream in which Khan is woken up by a black horse waiting at a window, a mysterious tale that introduces the listener to her peculiar lyrical content as well as the inspirational muse that ultimately unearthed the creation of Fur and Gold.
Upon first listen, lead singles â€œPrescillaâ€ and â€œWhatâ€™s A Girl To Do?â€ emerge as the most immediately satisfying tracks. The former implements driving foot-stomps and hand-claps as the backbone to a precautionary tale of prospective adulthood, while the latter combines whimsical production, fiery vocal delivery, and drums ripped from Jesus and Mary Chainâ€™s catalogue to tackle a heartbreaking story of faded love. Yet repeat listens expose Khanâ€™s delicate and theatrical piano-led ballads â€” notably â€œSad Eyes,â€ â€œThe Batâ€™s Mouth,â€ and the closing Bruce Springsteen cover â€œIâ€™m On Fireâ€ â€” as additional highlights that gently massage the ears before climbing to dramatic heights.
Already nominated for UKâ€™s Mercury Prize, Fur and Gold is an intoxicating glimpse into the mysterious world of Natasha Khan.
Bat For Lashes will be playing the Crocodile CafÃ© on October 14th.
Here’s the new video for “What’s a Girl to Do?”