Video: ‘Pearl’s Dream’

Bat for Lashes is Brighton’s Natasha Khan, whose first album was nominated for the Mercury Prize back in 2007 (but didn’t win). I’ve often meant to give her music a proper listen; this marks the first time I have heard one of her albums in full. And… Khan has a beautiful voice that suits her style of music perfectly; Two Suns is epic, diverse, mysterious, full of texture – all these are things that I like in music. Yet the maddening question that kept niggling me as I listened to the album was: why am I not enjoying this more?

Well, the song on Two Suns that I keep returning to is the lead single, ’Daniel’. It’s an absolutely fantastic song that sounds as though it came from the playlist of a high-school disco in the Land of Faerie – and knowing that it’s about the Karate Kid reduces its power not one bit. But it also sticks out like a sore thumb for me, because even after several listens to the album, it’s the only song on there that really stays in my mind properly.

Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t mean to say that the rest of Two Suns is forgettable, or leaves no impression – on the contrary, the album as a whole leaves a very strong (and favourable) impression. But the music I love best gets into my mind and stays there, comes back to the surface every now and then to be hummed or sung along  to. Two Suns is great while I’m listening to it, but most of it doesn’t stick afterwards.

I am impressed with the diversity of the album; it covers a lot more bases than I expected it would. There are many great moments: the way that ‘Glass’ builds from a simple a cappella vocal to a thudding crescendo; and the soulful call-and-response of ‘Peace of Mind’, to name just two… I like Two Suns very much, but I don’t love it. And I very nearly loved it, which is what frustrates me all the more.

Video: ‘Sleep Alone’ – live

Read my other Mercury Prize 2009 posts here.