Bat for Lashes - The Bride album review: intriguing concept left standing at the altar

The Bride
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Artist: Bat for Lashes
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Parlophone

Most musicians approach a concept album with caution. But Natasha Khan? As proven on her second album, Two Suns, which introduced her alter-ego, Pearl, in a story that touched on dualities, the Bat for Lashes woman positively thrives on the idea.

Khan has made the mystical, cerebral strand of indiepop her own in recent years. For her fourth record, she tackles the fictional tale of a bride whose fiancé dies in a car crash on the way to their wedding, and charts the emotional fallout. As you might expect, the majority of these tracks are anchored in anguish and despair. Early on, Joe's Dream lays ominous groundwork for what is to come, chronicling a prophetic dream in which her late fiancé "Saw angels at his bedroom door / And a body on a chequered floor", while in In God's House she cries: "What's this I see? My baby's hands on the wheel / What's this I see? / Fire, fire".

The bride decides to embark on her honeymoon alone, and the subsequent tracks detail her grieving process, from the pain-stricken Sunday Love to the David Lynch-meets-Fleetwood Mac vibe of If I Knew to the witchy, spoken word incantation of Widow's Peak – the latter accentuating her sense of loss with rainfall and thunder.

It's a captivating narrative, but the music lets it down somewhat. Despite Khan's pure, crystalline voice, there are only so many murmured basslines, glistening harp riffs, ruminative lyrics and echoed effects one can take. Honeymooning Alone is one of only a handful of tracks with any sense of pace and dynamism. The strings on In Your Bed lighten the tone somewhat and the electronic murmur of In God's House ignites the album. Woven together into a concept, these songs tell an intriguing story but as standalone tracks, most of them are simply dull.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times