‘The Bride’ by Bat For Lashes Album Review: Nuanced Viewpoints And A Contained Journey To Self-Discovery
The Bride is the title of the fourth studio album by singer/songwriter Natasha Khan, better known as Bat For Lashes. Khan has previously revealed that The Bride revolves around the concept of a woman who loses her fiancé on the day of their wedding. The singer delivers the nuances of this tragedy with exquisite vulnerability and self-contained dynamism, while also allowing room for experimentation with sonic distortions and theatricality.
‘The Bride’ by Bat For Lashes Album Review
The Bride follows its central figure on a symbolic “honeymoon” journey, as she tries to cope with the grief and struggles to move on. With this grim thought in mind, it is easy to comprehend the profound wistfulness behind the tunes on this record. The singer’s soaring vocals and dark melodies create an all-embracing atmosphere of somberness.
The album’s opener “I Do” is a gentle and innocent lull, almost taunting us with a presentiment of the protagonist’s ironic ignorance of the misfortune she is going to experience. “Joe’s Dream” switches briefly to telling the story from the groom’s perspective, who professes his love. There is already a sonic hint of the dirge undertones of the rest of the album. The third track on the record and its lead single, “In God’s House” — an easy standout of Khan’s mystical electronic indie-pop — has the bride awaiting her husband-to-be at the altar. The sonic dissonances are in line with the ominous moodiness of this track, which plunges us into the tragic images of fire and destruction. The self-directed accompanying visuals are a lot more subtle and symbolic than the lyrics are, but they evoke the cinematic and sonic feel of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn.
“Honeymooning Alone” opens with the sound of a car crash. A dynamic rhythm escorts her experience of tragedy as something fateful: “I will always be the girl that was denied.” The out-of-tune instrumentation and sleek guitar echo in the background of Khan’s poignant vocals which are vaguely reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. By the time we get to “If I Knew,” the bride has undergone a transformation from the initial emotional reaction to an experience of tragedy that can be channeled into self-discovery, as something to be overcome and learn from. Her vocals, here evocative of early Stevie Nicks more than ever, reflect that change as they sway over a simple piano melody.
“I Will Love Again” completes her transformation with hopefulness and the reclaiming of the self as a whole over spectral sounds. “In Your Bed” has the heroine imagining a scene of a simple world where the tragedy never occurred and she can just spend time in her beloved’s bed. Dreamy strings and choir vocals that sound almost angelic accompany this uplifting track, which in retrospect is arguably the most depressing song on the album.
The Bride is an exhaustive lamentation — haunting, stirring and beautiful. The music paints a cohesive string of images that unfold as the album progresses, and Khan’s exquisite, intimate vocals sustain the emotional atmosphere, tension and dynamism of the record throughout.
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