As Bat For Lashes moves into her 5th album she has been threatening going full-on 80s synth pop for a while. Moving away over time from her ancient tinged acoustic pop through synth and then smokey synths last time out, Lost Girls is the album she goes full retro. It’s just a shame that the tracks are not as memorable melodically this time around.
Across the 10 tracks, Natasha Atlas aka Bat For Lashes, embraces cheesy drum loops, 80s synth galore and gives her take on what she’d have done circa 1988. It contains all the usual trappings of a Bat For Lashes album but with a slightly lighter tone than before. That lightness also transposed over to the production. The synth work is thin, the guitars lack oomph and drums feel like the life has been sucked out of them. This sometimes works really well but when I was hoping for tracks like ‘Feel For You’ and ‘Jasmine’ to break into a really big moment, they just meandered on instead.
This view on production is very much personal taste – as all music is. I just feel like if you introduce all the songs elements out of the gate and it doesn’t evolve much from there, it can be a bit underwhelming when you reach the final chorus. Melodically the tracks are spot on, they just feel thin and so they may feel a little stale when listened to back to back. If you have the option to turn up the bass frequency – do it. I enjoyed the album as a whole much more when I got the chance to do so and I could feel the music much more in my veins. I think its also why ‘Kids in the Dark’ really stuck with me as the track feels so thick with emotion as it has a heavy bassline and chunky guitars.
The latter third of the album then moves away from this production set up and immediately my enjoyment tripled. ‘Peach Sky’ is a superb track that marries the old and new sounds of Atlas. The closer ‘Mountain’ has progression and feeling in it. The instrumental ‘Vampires’ brings in the sexy saxophone for a late-night technoire booty call. It feels as if it should be placed in the stranger things soundtrack immediately!
If I could just get the bass up on the mix and perhaps give the final choruses or riffs more prominence then I think the album would feel less lite as when taken individually, the songs work really well. I am also aware that I have spent much of the review being quite critical when I actually quite enjoyed the music. I promise! I think Lost Girls will be a grower, not a shower for me personally. Each listen has let me grow accustomed to the production and if this isn’t going to be an issue for you, bump the score up a point. It’s great to see Bat For Lashes continuing to explore different sounds and I’m excited to see what she turns her hand to next.
Recommended track: Kids in the Dark
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