Bat For Lashes - Latitude 2012 review

'Magical and other-worldly pop songs'

Photographer:Rosie Shaw

Rebecca Laurence - 15 July 2012

'There's a great moment when, near the end of her set, Natasha Khan's microphone stand malfunctions during 'Priscilla' , she stops and says "Fuck that!" then, cheekily grinning and apologising, "Sorry kids". As Richard Hawley put it the previous night, Latitude is "a family show."

There's a more adult vibe to Natasha Khan though. Gone are the headdresses, flowing locks and warpaint which made up Bat For Lashes' early incarnation, replaced today by a diaphanous teal catsuit and sharp, Louise Brooks bob.

Always a confident performer, the more sophisticated look complements the assuredness with which Natasha Khan commands the Obelisk stage. Starting off with the moody, 'What's a Girl To Do' from her debut 'Fur and Gold', Khan leaps around like a jack-in-a-box with maracas, clearly having a whale of a time.

With her third LP, 'The Haunted Man' due out in October, today provides the chance to test out some new songs.  'Laura''s heartfelt piano and vocal arrangement sounds deceptively simple, but is actually quite a vocal test which Khan manages well.

Other new songs make use of drum machines, discordant synth backing, sometimes with a dub-reggae bassline. There's also a more upbeat, disco vibe to these tracks, a far cry from some of Khan's more introspective earlier material.

There's less melodic immediacy to some of these new songs, and this, the fact that they are unfamiliar, and an M83 clash, mean that unfortunately the crowd peters out a little midway through the set. Doubtless highlights are still older tracks, in particular, an epic 'Pearl's Dream', theremin and harpsichord-led 'Horse and I', and closer, 'Daniel' - proof of Khan's certain ability to create magical and other-worldly pop songs.

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