Magic motivates melancholy Bat for Lashes

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      Whether she's wanted to or not, Bat for Lashes singer Natasha Khan has had to talk about herself a lot over the past year. A media darling in her native England, the chanteuse has been grilled about her fashion style–a mix of glittery face paint and hand-me-downs from Sun Ra–as much as about Fur and Gold, her band's mystical dance-folk debut. With the Mercury Prize–nominated disc recently released on this side of the pond, the Brighton-based Khan finds herself frustrated by answering many of the same questions she did 12 months ago.

      "I get sick of it," the performer says half jokingly from a tour bus en route to Philadelphia. "The repetition of talking about itit's not boring, but it gets surreal after a while. You start spinning out a bit."

      On the bright side, Khan has stumbled upon the deeper meaning of her lyrics through talking with the press so much.

      "When you make a piece of work, you don't immediately know what it's about or what you're trying to say. Only through hindsight and the process of talking about it do you start to see the themes and strange symbolism."

      Though vague about the specifics–"It's a personal thing," the artist admits–Fur and Gold sees Khan recalling her youth. "There are a lot of specific parts of childhood, like adolescence," she notes of the album. "There's a feeling of heightened emotions. And sex. And romance."

      "Bat's Mouth" is perhaps Fur and Gold's most innocent moment, coupling a tale of young love with delicate piano. "He is shaking and dancing in her bat mouth," Khan coos during the song's crescendo of violins and giggling voices, before adding, "And she's holding him tight in her bat arms."

      Switching gears, "What's a Girl to Do?" finds the musician discussing faded love. The tune's Wall of Sound approach–meshing timpani, harps, and drum machines–is the melancholy backdrop for its heart-wrenching chorus: "When you've loved so long that the thrill is gone/And your kisses at night are replaced with tears."

      The track's accompanying video taps into another of the singer's interests: the supernatural. "I'm into films like E.T., The Goonies, and Donnie Darko," Khan says. "All of those films where you have a coming-of-age thing that's linked with strange phenomena, like UFOs or Halloween stuff."

      Her apparent interest in all things mystical is reflected in her claim that Fur and Gold was made with magic. "There is a natural mysticism when you get a group of people together," Khan explains. "There's magic created just by all the different energies and forces that are coming from all the people involved in a project."

      Despite the focus on her spirituality, Khan explains that deep down she's really not that different from the rest of us. "We're not burning incense sticks and wearing tie-dye," the singer-vocalist insists. "I still like going to hip-hop clubs and getting down. Just having fun and being silly."

      Bat for Lashes plays the Plaza Club on Saturday (October 13).

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