Two suns spinning at different speeds

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Bat for Lashes‘ sophomore full-length, Two Suns, is a breakup album, but don’t go in expecting a collection of downtrodden, sad sack ballads, ala Blood on the Tracks (Bob Dylan) or Sea Change (Beck). Instead, songwriter Natasha Khan a high-flown metaphor to explain her heartbreak: she and her lover are planets, unable to communicate as they travel along separate orbits. It’s a grandiose and slightly absurd conceit, but Khan pulls it off because of her unwavering conviction: the opener, “Glass,” contains the lyric “The hands of the watchman / In the night sky / Points to my beloved / A knight in crystal armour.”

As if the celestial metaphor were not enough, Khan also adopts the alter-ego of a self-destructive drag queen named named Pearl (Georgie Fruit, hmm?). This character allows Khan to deal with surreality of life as a successful musician (in the wake of her 2006 album Fur & Gold). Pearl is finally excised in the album’s final track, “The Big Sleep,” an operatic death duet sung with Scott Walker.

This lofty lyricism is supported by ethereal synth washes, baroque piano, and pulsing electro beats. Along with Khan’s dramatic vocal style, the result is similar to Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush. ‘Daniel” is the best distillation of Bat for Lashes’ new style, as it swells from a gently buzzing keyboard riff to propulsive dance groove with lush vocals layering and vaguely Eastern sounding synth leads. It’s an unforgettable song, and a highlight of one of the best albums of the year so far.
 
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