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Bat for Lashes, "Two Suns" (Astralwerks) [3 STARS]

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Raised by a Pakistani father and an English mother, Brighton-based singer and songwriter Natasha Khan, a.k.a. Bat for Lashes, made her recorded debut in 2006 with "Fur and Gold," which was nominated as album of the year for the U.K.'s prestigious Mercury Prize and prompted Radiohead to invite her to open on tour. Her buzz has been building in the States ever since, with critics and fans rushing to crown her minimalist, Steve Reich-inspired sounds as a combination of Kate Bush, Bjork and Tori Amos. But Khan actually has a lot more in common with the less hip Celtic enchantress Loreena McKennitt and the indie-rock cult heroine Mary Timony, both of whom bring a similarly psychedelic witchy/Renaissance Fair vibe to their enchanting brands of folk-rock.

Think Stevie Nicks for the more musically adventurous, with the magick and the air of dark, threatening but nonetheless seductive danger turned way up.

Described as a concept album charting the duality of Khan's "desert-born spiritual self" and her "destructive, self-absorbed, blonde femme fatale" alter-ego Pearl, "Two Suns" lacks a track as instantly appealing as "What's a Girl to Do," the striking single from her debut, and the grand piano and autoharp-laced tunes verge toward the comatose during the more somber and morose moments. But the singer's voice remains a wondrous, swooping and soaring instrument; she deserves serious props for the closing duet with British cult legend Scott Walker, "The Big Sleep," and there's still more than enough magic in these 11 tunes to cast an enchanting spell.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on April 14, 2009 12:23 PM.

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