Known by her artistic pseudonym Bat for Lashes, Natasha Khan has spent the past decade exploring fantasies ranging from psychotic alter egos to tumultuous relationships. With her latest album, The Bride, she’s back at it again, but lacks the same punch that propelled her previous efforts to success.
The Bride follows a concept Khan explored in a short film she directed last year – a bride loses her fiancé in a car crash, but decides to go on her honeymoon anyway. Although Khan herself has denied the title of “concept album” for this release, she has described this personal journey in detail and held recent tour stops in churches while encouraging concert-goers to dress in wedding attire. If those aren’t surefire signs of a concept album, what are?
The journey itself is a winding one – Khan gives the listener very little respite from her depressing and spacious sounds. For a release so narrow-minded, The Bride pins down its objectives by setting its tone right off the bat and sticking to it. Peaking at its fifth track, “Sunday Love,” a song which displays Khan’s strange, emo pop side, the record goes downhill quickly and will likely weed out all but the most dedicated listeners.
While the first five tracks are impactful, the latter half of the album leaves little to no impression. After a few listens, it’s obvious The Bride’s concluding seven tracks weave in and out of the same narrative several times, resulting in a repetitive and emotionally draining conclusion. At the offset, Khan’s concept seems to have potential, but the resulting record proves her latest inspiration led to the least compelling of her four albums. In the end, this album would have worked much better as a five-song EP rather than a full-length release.
The Bride lacks pop sensibilities, and when Khan does incorporate some mainstream influences, they maintain her dreary and depressing tone, making a statement not just on her main foray of love but on the status of modern pop as well. Casual listeners be warned — this album isn’t so much music for consumption as it is an artistic statement. Although some listeners might discover something enduring, most will be let down by the album’s lack of replayability.
That’s not to say this album is a failure — it’s certainly not for everybody, but to those who enjoy its ambient and somber lulls, this experience can be found almost nowhere else. Just turn it off right around the 19-minute mark, and it’ll fit perfectly into your depressing, rainy day playlist.
- Album: The Bride
- Tracks: 13
- Genre: Art pop
- Rating: 6/10