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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 9/09/19

    Bat For Lashes - Lost Girls (AWAL)

    Given the influences typically tossed around in conversations about her, it's curious that it's taken so long for Natasha Khan to do the full time warp back to the '80s in her work. It's even more curious when you consider the number of times '80s nostalgia has peaked and dipped in the last decade alone. From Johnny Jewel to M83 to Carly Rae Jepsen, it feels like everyone has sported the sounds of the Reagan years in some form, with varying levels of success. Those artists aren't Bat For Lashes, however, and with Lost Girls, she manages to take the elements that made all of those artists' most '80s efforts work--the taut textures, swooning cinematics, and starry eyed ee mo shun, respectively--and synthesizes them all into one effort that sounds celestial, sincere, and wholly her own.

    Interestingly, the album came to be during a time where Khan wasn't even sure she'd release another album. In the years since 2016's heady, heavy concept album The Bride, she moved to Los Angeles and began pursuing a possible career in film work, both in scoring and screenwriting. Lost Girls was born of those efforts and it sounds like it. Opener "Kids in the Dark" was originally conceived as a sweeping end credits soundtrack, and it's warm throb and cascading, Stranger Things synths leave the listener scripting out any number of films that may have preceded it in their head.

    There are hints of what Khan's actual film may have been in the album's title and songs like "The Hunger" and "Vampires" (and I'd still totally watch it), but this is arguably the first Bat For Lashes album ever where the concept behind it cedes dominance to the songs within it. It's a subtle but seismic shift, and it turns out Khan knows how wear the costume of neon synth pop siren as well as any other persona she's adopted in her discography. The mid album one-two punch of "So Good" and "Safe Place" alone one ups the most recent efforts by both CHVRCHES and the aforementioned Jepsen. Elsewhere, early highlight "Feel For You" slinks and slaps its way to becoming what could be classified as the first true Bat For Lashes banger, all while Khan simply repeats the Chaka Khan referencing title until it becomes mutual.

    These big swings are alternated with more traditional Bat For Lashes fare like "Desert Man" and closer "Mountains", but even those numbers come adorned with new kind of shimmer, almost like when Cocteau Twins suddenly turned up the lights between Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas. Indeed, Lost Girls as a whole shines a new light on Khan and her talents, showing a new way forward that a number of fans may never have even thought possible before. However long she stays on this chosen path, it would be foolish not to follow.
    Review by Rob Huff

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