Review: Don't believe everything you read - the fifth Bat For Lashes album confirms this girl (or woman) found herself musically and thematically some time ago, freeing up creative energy to explore new approaches to deliver her often mournful, always heartfelt songs inspired by personal crises and private longings. On this outing there's more than a hint of 1980s pop evident in the mix. Shades of Prince ("Feel For You"), Madonna ("So Good"), Bowie's Berlin days and electro-era Gary Numan (the stunning, infectious instrumental "Vampires") cast the record in a nostalgia that suits the sense of yearning that always seems to pervade Natasha Khan's work. Simply name-checking reference points is lazy and unfair, though. This is an incredible collection of tracks moulded in the artist's own image - bold, beautiful and instantly captivating. Then again, it would be surprising if anyone had expected anything less.
Review: If this is the first time you've stumbled upon Chastity Belt we implore you to look back on their previous three albums. That should confirm how much the band have grown, although in this case rather than reaching for higher heights the development is like the roots of a tree. Here they're pushing deeper, and leaving the listener more nourished than any previous encounter. Poor analogies aside, dark undertones marry a sense of strange tranquility. The sort of feeling you get after suffering great loss and finally having a moment to reflect without that freight train of grief. There's sadness, or at least a subtle mood of lamentation to "Elena", but it also packs love at first sight melodies. "Effort" builds a tension from beneath, as though that aforementioned great oak were trying to burst from the earth itself. Alternative, detailed rock? Perhaps, but we prefer to simply say "stunning".