A part of me feels like I have always known about Bat for Lashes, but for whatever reason I have never actually dived into Natasha Khan’s music before. I came upon this album via Song Exploder
and I have been hooked since. It feels like something of a homeage to so many aspects of the 80’s.
Place between The Midnight and BANKS.
The sound of Lost Girls isn’t just exhuming certain synth tones. It’s exhuming a past to try and clarify today, to clarify aging, to clarify how our memories and upbringings shift in and out of focus, eventually rewritten into the kind of filmic adventures we might’ve escaped through when we were actually living through those years.
Lost Girls, though not without those crisp and sparkling moments, is an album you need to wade into. You need to let its ambience engulf you, and follow along the same as you might when watching a movie’s story unfold. It’s an album of visions — of a city forever colored by decades-old impressions received from across an ocean, of films, of an innocence lost only to be explored for the rest of our lives, of ancient wastelands and endless drives through them.
Devotees of 1980s pop-culture, teen movies, vampires or Coreys Haim and Feldman may recall The Lost Boys, a 1987 flick about two teenage brothers who battle a gang of motorcycle-riding vampires. Bat for Lashes offers her variation on the theme with her fifth LP, Lost Girls, a collection of 10 songs steeped in the sounds of ’80s pop and loosely based around a vampire girl-gang chasing a mortal protagonist in Los Angeles.
Doomy disco for dark times
From there, she wrote a screenplay about a girl called Nikki who becomes obsessed with alien sightings and befriends a local lad whose town is being terrorised by some ghostly girls on bikes. Together, they set out to solve the mystery before finding themselves in the captivity of the spooky cyclists. Sounds like the perfect John Hughes’ script, eh? Well, it started out as something for the big screen before the soundtrack took hold and the album ran away with itself .
It’s a vivid world, although less singular or startling than Khan’s previous creations; these touchstones have become so deeply embedded in the cultural fabric that they offer the same comforting glow as an episode of “Stranger Things” rather than the shock of the new.
It’s plain to hear that this music was born out of sheer pleasure: its propulsive rhythms and zig-zagging, ostentatious synth melodies are the stuff of fist-pumping high-school movies. The cowbell-powered Feel for You is a major highlight, with its bubbling funk guitar and layered vocals; meanwhile, it’s hard to believe that the strutting saxophone of Vampires wasn’t actually recorded in the 80s. But it’s not nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake: the record is elevated by surreal moments and powerful songwriting that could only have come from Khan, whether in the palpable carnality of The Hunger, or the Middle Eastern synth patterns of So Good. She may not have intentionally set out to make this album, but it’s a blessing that she did.