Review Summary: Let's leave the alter egos to Beyonce and Bowie, shall we?
Listeners of every variety seem to be enthused by the unstable and the demented, don’t they? David Bowie with an alter ego- Cool! Thom Yorke as an unstable recluse for Kid A
... interesting! A heartbroken Justin Vernon alone in the wilderness? Intriguing. The success of these unstable releases from equally mad artists, though, ultimately comes not from the unfortunate condition of the artist, but from the art. Bat For Lashes mastermind Natasha Khan is a bit weird, no offense to the songstress of course. Unfortunately though, Two Suns
doesn’t withstand the ambience and minimalism all over it and ends up collapsing in upon itself. Her sophomore album certainly doesn’t fail at creating a lush atmosphere,but the moodiness of Two Suns
gets wearisome and (dare I say?) boring after realizing that Bat For Lashes simply doesn’t have enough worthwhile material to make Two Suns
an engaging experience. While it might seem interesting at first, after subsequent listens the soft, 80’s-esque music with haunting vocals fails to deliver more than this aspect. The gaping hole in Khan’s work is her inability to create anything worthwhile beneath her ethereal musings and moods.
Don’t get me wrong- it’s easy to appreciate Bat For Lashes knack for creating a haunting atmosphere with sweeping pianos and foggy synth washes, but it’s ultimately the lack of substance that turns this dreamy piece into a nightmare. Let’s begin with the vocals, shall we? The whispery soprano fails to impress for the most part. Bat For Lashes uses her voice alongside the instruments in very similar fashion- the romantic wailing is simply another haunting device in Khan’s large inventory of dreary implements. The vocals are unfulfilling and a bit empty. I’d love to say, “Beneath Khan’s subtle voice lies much more meaning and significance,” but I can’t. The truth is, it feels like beneath her subtle vocals lie- well, nothing intriguing.
The cover of Two Suns
is probably just part of some “indie” gimmick to make you think Bat For Lashes is eccentric or quirky, right? Wrong. Bat For Lashes is bat*** crazy, to be honest. For Two Suns
she channeled her alter-ego, Pearl. As she whispers away about gypsies, lost love, and the Renaissance Fair or who knows what, I’m reminded that many of the best pieces of art have been created by eccentrics, so I can’t really hold this against Bat For Lashes. On the other hand, I can hold a little more of a gripe with her music. Parallel to her voice, everything feels very soft and subdued. The delicate and simple piano-centered songs like “Peace Of Mind” and “Moon and Moon” are dreary and emotionless. If it wasn’t for the fact that they fit so well on Two Suns, I would think they were just filler. Two Suns
as a whole is a product much too fluffy and otherworldly. The vacuous melodies quickly become trite, and my ears feel empty upon listen after listen. The minimalist attitude on Two Suns
is bold, but seems to crumble in upon itself when Khan can’t possibly fill this void she’s created. The entire album isn’t devoid of a few golden spots though, as Khan strikes it rich when she goes catchy. “Pearl’s Dream,” uses a catchy synth-line and percussive drive, and it works beautifully. “Daniel” is the other moment in Two Suns
that separates itself, and it’s pretty clear what the rest of the album is missing after examining the strong points on Two Suns
Khan simply doesn’t have a whole lot to offer on Two Suns
, and it makes Bat For Lashes come off as an unorganized, dreary, and emotionless affair. While it would perhaps be uncharitable to call it 'boring,' Two Suns comes dangerously close to this point,especially in the pitfalls like “Good Love” or “The Big Sleep." But let's give credit where credit is due, because Bat For Lashes has definitely created a sorrowful experience on Two Suns with an atmosphere that's worth tuning in to. It’s just a shame she couldn’t back up this ambience with the right concoction of percussion, vocals, and substance to make Two Suns
a worthwhile experience.