From The Life of Pablo to A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016 has been a year full of minimalist electronic statements. You can now add The Bride, the fourth effort from indie art-pop darling Bat for Lashes, to this growing list.
The Bride is a classic concept album, beginning on the eve of the titular character’s wedding. Disney cliché this is not, however, as her husband-to-be dies in a car crash, and she is left struggling to recover and find herself in the aftermath. Given the subject matter, the album can occasionally slip into melodrama territory. However, it manages to avoid the obvious, inviting the audience into the emotion-filled, high stakes world Natasha Khan creates. Khan herself has said the album was written as the soundtrack to a film she hopes to make, and one can easily perceive the cinematic qualities it possesses; you can almost picture the associated moving images as you listen on.
As always, Khan’s flawless and emotionally weighty vocals steal the show here. Her voice soars above the delicate and sombre arrangements, while ghostly choirs of her own multi-tracked vocals haunt the background, as on “Never Forgive the Angels”. That’s not to say the musical compositions aren't more than serviceable, as the album is filled with eerie, orchestral electronics occasionally calling to mind Lana Del Ray (“In Your Bed”) or Radiohead (“Sunday Love”).
The Bride’s ambitious concept is pulled off with ease and conviction, demonstrating Khan’s innate sense of world building theatricality, as well as her strong song-writing skills. While it may not immediately knock you flat the way that, say, 2012’s The Haunted Man did, it’s certainly an album you’ll want to return to and another stellar addition to Bat for Lashes’ heavenly discography.
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