Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man
The biggest difference between The Haunted Man and 2009's Two Suns is in the presentation – gone are the intricate, ornate, quasi-mystical visual trappings of that album's cover, along with Natasha Khan's glamourpuss alter-ego Pearl, and much of the spectral, reverb-drenched vocal effects used on Two Suns and its predecessor Fur and Gold.
Instead, Khan presents herself and her voice with a raw, stripped-down aesthetic, bringing her melancholic, ghostly piano ballads into the realm of the torch song. When it works, as on the dramatic opener Lillies, with its refrain of 'Thank God I'm alive,' the effect is life-affirming and dramatic – lending Khan's delivery the power-ballad dynamics of Kate Bush or Tori Amos. The occasional misfire aside – take the insipid, predictable Laura; one of the few tracks which feels like filler – this is a well-written, superbly-composed collection of modern pop music, and a natural evolution of Khan's palette.