Album Review | POP

Bat for Lashes, ‘The Haunted Man’

You can’t expect every acolyte to process their influences in their entirety. Sometimes they’re returned piecemeal, as is the case with Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan. With a dramatic vocal style that ranges from an empathetic whisper to a high soprano keen, she’s clearly enamored of Kate Bush, but on “The Haunted Man,” she sets it against a far less sweeping backdrop. The hammered dulcimer-laden “Horses of the Sun” has an itchy thump underneath reminiscent of Florence + the Machine, and the impassioned melancholy of “Laura” relies solely on piano, light strings, and some low woodwinds, but most of the songs are undergirded with rudimentary beats that establish little more than the shadow of percussion. If Khan’s tone makes them chilly, the arrangements make them brittle. And while the title track offers a whirl of information, from scene-setting glitchiness to dynamic shifts to a drop down to a men’s chorus to clanging electronics at the fade-out, it stubbornly remains a piece of music that refuses to cohere. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Horses of the Sun”