Bat For Lashes' The Haunted Man is a moody and nostalgic affair
The Haunted Man (Capitol)
Bat for Lashes, aka U.K. dark-pop explorer Natasha Khan, suffers a nasty bout of nostalgia on her third long-player, The Haunted Man. The collection’s moody tunes have the exquisitely voiced artist casting a glance at what once was. On “All Your Gold”, one of many tracks driven by supple string swells and a steady four-on-the-floor drum-machine beat, Khan’s protagonist settles into a relationship with someone she tries to convince herself is “a good man”, but she doesn’t seem to get the same charge that she did with the old flame who put her through the wringer.
The melancholy title cut has her softly singing that the memory of a lost love keeps her up at night, but at least the insomnia has taken Khan’s songwriting to new heights. A men’s choir, military marching beats, and Bat for Lashes’ own lilting falsetto cascade fantastically throughout the slumber-troubling tune. Elsewhere, Khan shows some restraint on “Laura”, a tender ballad that pines for table-dancing party days.
While a sameness pervades the arrangements on the back half of the album, there’s still plenty to savour in lusciously layered pop soundscapes like “Deep Sea Diver” and “Marilyn”. Lyrically, Khan may long for the past, but The Haunted Man sure sounds like she’s enjoying the present more than she’s letting on.