Bat for Lashes: The Haunted Man (Capitol) 

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The music of Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes) has always been girded with a deep sense of weirdness. A few listens to the airy tribalism of tracks like "The Wizard" or "Trophy" on 2006's Fur and Gold would be enough to convince you of that. But she's also had a certain Lilith Fair side to her, as evidenced by that album's catchy piece of baroque pop, "Prescilla." You can easily fit her into the pantheon of weirdo pop-art chicks like Annie Lennox, Tori Amos and, more recently, Marina Diamandis on some distaff Mount Olympus, surrounded by Louis XIV furniture, china figurines and dried bundles of wildflowers.

Khan's stranger pop instincts have taken a back seat on The Haunted Man, her most-conventional album yet. Judging by the cover—on which Khan stands resolutely with an unconscious man slung over her shoulders, both of them naked—you might expect this album to be stripped down or darker. Songs like "Laura" are spare and lovely, though on "Lilies," we're treated to a full string section accompanying the tra-la-la chorus of "All the lilies on the hill!"

Khan has had her weaknesses as an artist—she's far too wordy and self-indulgent, and her songs tend to loop back in on themselves rather than going anywhere. Three albums in, these are still her weaknesses, but it's hard to begrudge a woman so committed to positioning herself as both maenad and muse.

More by Sean Bottai


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