1. “Horse and I”: Please tell me that’s a Theremin! Good sign. Military drum beat? Another good sign. Layered backing vocals? This just gets better and better.
2. “Trophy”: “Heaven is a feeling I get in your arms” might sound a little trite/contrived on paper, but sung by Ms. Khan with the Nick Cave-esque voice of Josh Pearson as it is here, it’s quite seductive. A track that’s moderately danceable, it begs for a quicker-paced remix.
3. “Tahiti”: This song and her vocals on it remind me of Feist, but more elaborate and full.
4. “What’s A Girl To Do?”: The first song I heard from Bat for Lashes, and a good place to start. Simultaneously catchy and haunting. The booming of the drums coupled with the sighs in the chorus is a delightful contrast.
5. “Sad Eyes”: A piano ballad lovely in its simplicity.
6. “The Wizard”: Parts of this feel kind of trip-hop inspired.
7. “Prescilla”: Stomps and claps provide percussion for this track, definitely one of the more memorable ones.
8. “The Bat’s Mouth”: A very lush, cinematic, majestic ballad – nothing jaw-dropping about it, but like everything else so far, it’s gorgeous.
9. “Seal Jubilee”: Another song featuring Josh Pearson, though it would benefit from more of him. There are lots of different sounds swimming quickly in and out of the background and it makes for a nice effect.
10. “Sarah”: A charming, swinging portrait of a girl. The album could’ve used this pick up a few songs earlier.
11. “I Saw A Light”: Another simple piano ballad, this time bolstered with extra sound here and there. It slowly builds and builds, only to come crashing down a little over halfway through before slipping off into silence.
12. “I’m On Fire”: A U.S. only track, Ms. Kahn takes a big chance with a cover of All-American Music Hero Bruce Springsteen’s eerily seductive ode to a young girl. I admire anyone who’s willing to switch up gender roles a bit, and Kahn does the right thing by adding her love for diverse instrumentation while somehow preserving the song’s simplicity. However, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a tagged on “this will get the Americans!” bonus sitting right here at the end when “I Saw a Light” is the more obvious closer.
Though the end result and aesthetic is different, it’s hard not to compare Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan with St. Vincent’s Annie Clark – they have some over-lapping influences and techniques, namely a fondness for bold choices in their instrumentation and arrangements. However, where Marry Me feels complete, Fur & Gold is somewhat lacking. Not in terms of quantity – at 12 songs, the album actually feels a bit long – but in terms of quality. It’s not that there aren’t good songs – there are a lot of good songs. Nine of the 12 (“What’s A Girl To Do?”, “Sarah,” (download) and “Prescilla” (download) in particular) are incredibly provocative and positively beautiful. But there aren’t any great songs. We wait for her to take all of this fantastic material and bring it to its peak, but she just doesn’t quite get there, which is even harder to accept because she’s so clearly capable. However, this is just her debut, so with any luck, the fulfillment of her potential is yet to come.