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Bat For Lashes

HMV Picture House, Edinburgh
4 stars
Don't be fooled by the vaguely Stonehenge-like set dressing which 
adorns the stage for Natasha Khan's current tour to promote her recent 
third album in her Bat For Lashes guise, The Haunted Man. Khan's hippy 
sensibilities may still be intact, but the school-assembly whimsy of 
yore has been ditched in favour of a more muscular synthesiser-led 
euphoria that adds a more grown-up sense of drama to her vocal 
gymnastics.

Sporting a full-length  blue-grey backless robe slit at the sides, Khan 
is all smiles for album opener, Lillies. With microphone in one hand, 
drumstick in  the other, she whacks the accompanying drum-pads with a 
relish gloriously at odds with her visual elegance. When she sings the 
words 'Thank God I'm alive' with arms outstretched, it sums up the 
sense of release that pulses throughout the new material.

With a lone cellist tucked behind the stage set, much of the songs' 
dense textures are provided by the two synth players and drummer who 
remain similarly discreet. Khan skips along to the jauntier, 
glitch-driven fare, wiggling her shoulders with her back to the 
microphone. For sublime ballad, Laura, she sits at the piano for a song 
that sounds very much like this term's halls of residence lullaby. Any 
accusations of Khan's canon leaning towards coffee-table blandness are 
undercut by the sheer volume of a delivery that still manages to 
capture each arrangement's nuances.

For the album's title track, Khan holds a vintage radio to the 
microphone, then above her head as the ghosts in the machine let rip a 
torrent of martial mediaevalism. For the encore Khan taps into her 
inner electro-pop disco diva, her demons purged  at last.

The Herald, October 22nd 2012

ends

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