Bat For Lashes – Two Suns (2009)

February 23rd, 2010 by Eric Loose

Two SunsListeners of every variety seem to be enthused by the unstable and the demented, don’t they? David Bowie with an alter ego- Cool! Thom Yorke as an unstable recluse for Kid A- Interesting! A heartbroken Justin Vernon alone in the wilderness- Intriguing! The success of these unstable releases from equally mad artists ultimately comes not from the unfortunate condition of the artist but from the art.  Bat For Lashes mastermind Natasha Khan is a bit weird (no offense to the songstress, of course). Unfortunately, Two Suns cannot withstand its own ambience and minimalism and ends up collapsing in on itself. Her sophomore album certainly doesn’t fail at creating a lush atmosphere; the moodiness of Two Suns gets tiresome and (dare I say?) boring after the listener realizes that Bat For Lashes simply doesn’t have enough worthwhile material to make Two Suns an engaging experience. It might seem interesting at first, but after several subsequent listens, the soft, 80’s-esque music with haunting vocals fails to deliver more. The gaping hole in Khan’s work is her inability to create anything worthwhile beneath her ethereal musings and moods.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to appreciate Bat For Lashes’ knack for creating a haunting atmosphere with sweeping pianos and foggy synth washes, but it’s ultimately the lack of substance that turns this dreamy piece into a nightmare. Let’s begin with the vocals, shall we? The whispery singer fails to impress for the most part. Bat For Lashes uses her voice similarly to how she uses her instruments- the romantic wailing is simply another haunting tool in Khan’s large inventory of dreary devices. The vocals are a bit unfulfilling and empty. I’d love to say, “Beneath Khan’s subtle voice lies much more meaning and significance,” but I can’t. The truth is, it feels like beneath her subtle vocals lie- well, nothing particularly intriguing.

The cover of Two Suns is probably just part of some “indie” gimmick to make you think Bat For Lashes is eccentric or quirky, right? Wrong. Bat For Lashes is batshit crazy, to be honest. On Two Suns, she channels her alter-ego, Pearl. As she whispers away about gypsies, lost love, and the Renaissance Fair or who knows what, I’m reminded that many of the best pieces of art have been created by eccentrics, so I can’t really hold this against Bat For Lashes. I do feel I can hold a little more of a gripe with her music, though. Parallel to her voice, everything feels very soft and subdued. The delicate and simple piano-centered songs like “Peace Of Mind” and “Moon and Moon” are dreary and emotionless. If it wasn’t for the fact that they fit so well on Two Suns, I would think they were just filler. Two Suns as a whole just seems far too fluffy and otherworldly. The vacuous melodies quickly become trite, and my ears feel empty upon listen after listen. The minimalist feel on Two Suns is bold, but the album crumbles in upon itself when Khan can’t possibly fill this void. The album does have few golden spots, though, and Khan strikes it rich when she turns catchy. “Pearl’s Dream,” for example, contains a captivating synth line and percussive drive. “Daniel” is the other moment in Two Suns that separates itself from the rest, and I think it’s pretty clear what the rest of the album is missing after examining the strong points on Two Suns.

It feels like Khan simply doesn’t have a whole lot to offer on Two Suns, and it makes Bat For Lashes come off as an unorganized, dreary, and emotionless musician. While I despise reviewing an album as “boring,” Two Suns comes dangerously close to this point, especially in the pitfalls like “Good Love” or “The Big Sleep.” I give Bat For Lashes credit where credit is due, for she’s definitely created a lamentful experience on Two Suns with an atmosphere worth tuning in to. It’s just a shame she couldn’t back up this ambience with the right concoction of percussion, vocals, and substance to make Two Suns a worthwhile experience.

Recommended Tracks:


Overall Rating: 2/5

Download on Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

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