This is so intimate you can almost feel her breath upon your skin. It’s still got a groove to it, though. The soaring-vocal-female-electropop market is fairly saturated at the moment, so Nathasha Khan has her work cut out to stand out: if appearing naked on the album cover would grab your attention, the music itself needs to hold it as firmly as she grips the unidentified chap on her shoulder. It does so surprisingly well for something so pared down and unfussy.
It’s strange and gratifying to see “quality” music like this do so well. The first Bat For Lashes album, Fur and Gold, was shortlisted for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize. The next reached number five in the UK charts and spawned hit single Daniel.
This one is ear-friendly enough to follow suit, as a somewhat less Nordic-sounding Oh Land. It has the same basis in rhythm – a foundation Khan laid while dancing nights away in NYC to Gang Gang Dance. Horses of the Sun has that faintly tribal, otherwordly vibe to it, and a compulsive foot-tapper of a beat that will have you shimmying in your seat, right until that unexpected bass will jolt you bolt upright, breathing a soft sigh of satisfaction.
I still don’t know why I find Laura quite so affecting. Perhaps it’s the tremor in her voice that could best be described as “achingly vulnerable” amidst its strength. She has a great timbre – it’s a warm, earthy, rich sort of voice like old oak. It’s as comforting as mashed potato in a country cottage.
Oh! The title track is good! A male chorus, strident marching drums and a vocal melody that would put Kate Bush to shame. There’s a sound at the end like a kitten purring, and if I was a kitten I’d be purring now, too.
The Haunted Man is the soundtrack for the last two stragglers on the dancefloor. Everyone else is too drunk or tired to keep going, but – buoyed by enthusiasm for the sounds you’re hearing – you can muster up just enough sugar-rush from your last few alcopops to keep moving until you’re ushered out, blinking, into the dawn light.
It deserves to do well.