Album: Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man (Parlophone)

 

If, in the past, Bat for Lashes has sometimes seemed a better proposition on paper than reality – all feathers and no parrot – then The Haunted Man is the album on which Natasha Khan should truly silence all doubters.

The inevitable comparison, let's get it out of the way right now, is Kate Bush. But BFL does Bush better than most of this century's leotarded pretenders. "All Your Gold" could have fallen right off The Dreaming, which is in no way an insult. However, the most important fact about BFL's third album is that it contains one of the stone-cold, stop-what-you're-doing Songs of the Year. "Laura", a heartbreaking, soaring, tear-choked ballad (and arguably a companion piece to her most famous song, "Daniel"), addresses a once-glamorous, hard-partying friend – or possibly lover – whose confidence has crashed, with pleas such as "Can we dance upon the tables again?".

If The Haunted Man consisted only of "Laura" and a load of filler, it would already be a contender for the end-of-year lists. But there's plenty more on this often-complex record. It's a skilled blend of the organic and the electronic, and if these lashes have previously fluttered – and flattered – to deceive, this is the real deal.

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