Albums I Enjoyed in 2007 — 6

Bat For Lashes
Fur and Gold

Bat For Lashes is terribly exotic in a fantasy-novel sort of way, as if Natasha Khan came from a world where magic really worked. Of course, having said that, I might have been influenced just a tidge by seeing the video for “Prescilla,” which reminded me strongly of “Labyrinth.” That video was the first time I saw Khan and heard those stomp/clap rhythms that flesh out her best tracks. I had just clicked on it for fun, in a “what the heck is a Bat For Lashes” kind of mood, and got blindsided by Khan’s voice and the glittery gold in the video augmenting the song’s fancy horn section.

Out of my whole list, this is the album that I wish I could have written. Not all of it — some of it is fairly cheezy — but songs like “Horse and I,” with its quasi-religious quest imagery, as if Khan were going into battle on a white horse to save the earth from some unknown but overarching evil. As the song ends there is no turning back / there is no turn …, Khan’s voice rises, incantatory. In other songs she pulls out and becomes the narrator, telling the story of someone else’s life — in “Prescilla,” she says, There’s a girl that wants to start / been thinking about having a couple of kids. Then she zooms back into first person, as in “Sarah”: But on the dirty tarmac of / the tarmac of the melting motorway / she gave me her clothes and told me take her place, her place, her place.

Khan has no trouble moving from the exotic to the mundane and back again — bats and suicide, love as an ocean and love that makes you feel sorry for yourself — all showcased by that fabulous voice and a stunning variety of orchestral background. This is the one that should’ve won the Mercury prize, in my humble opinion. It takes chances and even when they fail, they’re head and shoulders above the pack.