Seemingly out of nowhere, singer-songwriter Natasha Khan took the music world by storm when her 2006 debut Fur And Gold under the stage name Bat For Lashes was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize. After years of incessant touring promoting Fur And Gold, Khan went on another worldwide tour, this time in support of recording her sophomore album Two Suns that took her to places including New York and Joshua Tree, California.
For the Brighton, England-based musician, life has never ceased to be uninteresting or painful. “I used to live a normal life before the album (Fur And Gold) came out,” Khan says in Dazed & Confused Magazine. “Then I was just catapulted all over the world, and over the past two years, I’ve been grappling with just trying to make things work.”
Part of that included her pseudo-split personality, and not so much alter ego, Pearl. A self-destructive blonde femme fetale, Pearl is like New York’s skyline while Khan is like Joshua Tree’s desert. The two were never meant to be anything but separate, Khan found herself subconsciously writing Pearl into Two Suns with “Siren Song” making the direct introduction: “My name is Pearl / And I’ll love you the best way I know how / My blonde curls slice through your heart.”
Two Suns, however, is less about Pearl, and more about Khan and her long journey of self-discovery. Part of it can be viewed as break-up album. Part of it can be viewed as a snapshot of life’s fondness of conflict and struggle.
The opening “Glass” quotes Song of Solomon (“I will rise now / And go about the city / In the street’s broadways I seek / Him whom my soul loveth”) to set the album’s tone within the context of cosmic cycles and events. That might sound like much, but Bat For Lashes combines dreamy electro-pop with abstraction and mysticism to better illustrate the relationship between our personal conflicts and extraterrestrial ones.
Two Suns is more beat-driven than Fur And Gold. The use of synth and drum programming allow for a more ritualistic atmosphere. Sometimes this is meant literally, as in the somewhat pagan “Sleep Alone,” and sometimes it is meant metaphorically in order to establish a supernatural connection, as in the infectiously dour “Daniel.”
Physically speaking, life never ends. It’s just transformed. But spiritually speaking, Khan’s Pearl dies in “The Big Sleep” (which features Scott Walker) and marks another stage in Khan’s life. While there are many things in life that we cannot control, it’s joyful to listen to the amazing Two Suns and hear that Khan describes the new record as “This is me.”