Nine Songs: Bat For Lashes

 

When Natasha Khan announced a new album informed by the baby pinks and teals of 80s music and cinema, it would have been easy to sneer at it as the latest cultural power-grab for nostalgia, the aural equivalent of a New Coke can left in shot a little too long. That it would be a costume to dress up in for the night rather than something, you know, authentic. As it turns out, Lost Girls is a phenomenal record, which should come as little surprise for an artist whose just about to release her fifth on the bounce as Bat For Lashes (six if you count the Sexwitch LP, which you absolutely should). But that’s almost beside the point.

The point is that costumes and make-up are ways of telling stories; when we strike a pose, we reach towards something higher than the everyday motions learned by rote, which is ultimately what Khan does best. Each of her albums carries a concept, and yet even when they’re playing dress-up – quite literally in the case of Pearl, the blonde-wigged chaos twin she built into the Two Suns narrative – they’re telling us something about the artist, about ourselves.

Continue reading at The Line of Best Fit

Nine Songs: An Interview with Sophie Ellis-Bextor

 

If recent single “Love is You” sounds familiar, you might just recall the sample it’s built on. The last time that beat was riding high in the charts was August 2000, when Spiller’s “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)” became the soundtrack to every WKD-soaked dancefloor from Ipswich to Ibiza, promptly ushering a 21-year-old Sophie Ellis-Bextor into pop stardom.

What’s perhaps more remarkable is the constant evolution she’s worked hard to maintain ever since. Never interested in playing it safe, Ellis-Bextor made a conscious decision that 2014’s Wanderlust would be created independently and without any disco or dance tracks, a philosophy that largely carried over into 2016’s Familia. Both were written with Ed Harcourt, both carried a sophisticated blend of hooks and heart that made them two of her finest records, despite being largely overlooked in various corners of the press. Not that she cares too much about that sort of thing.

Continue reading at The Line of Best Fit

Tune-Yards implore us to listen to other voices, and the way we use our own

When I talk about voices, I am gesturing around the room. It is understood that voices are non-white, female, queer, working class, trans, excluded or otherwise compromised narratives that require underlining in urgent reds and blacks.

The privileged storyteller never hears the sound of their own voice, because – unless they have elsewhere known the feeling that some essential part of their being is second-class – it has never required any validation to be heard. Reading interviews with Merrill Garbus, it’s obvious that she invests a lot of time in thinking about how her own tongue carries the names of the African people and places she’s known and adored: teaching music at a primary school in Kenya; seeing Taarab music live; the ongoing influence of Fela Kuti, among others. For the fourth Tune-Yards album, I can feel you creep into my private life, Garbus chooses to examine the inherent privileges she is afforded by swiping her white-American library card through other cultures, while simultaneously fighting patriarchal bluster at home.

Continue reading at The Line of Best Fit