Random Access Memories
Naked as the day she born on the cover, has Natasha Khan stripped back her sound too?
If anything – three years after second album Two Suns – Khan's decided to layer it on, keeping the witchy tribal elements of her first two records but upping the elecronica. The Haunted Man leans heavily on synths and finds an extra melodic brightness. Sometimes (whisper it) this is Bat For Lashes-goes-pop.
Not so much stripped back as laid bare, The Haunted Man is apparently Khan putting her real self on the line. It's still a horses and gold fantasy world, mind, but when she reins in the flights of fancy on heartbreaking single Laura or the warmly nostalgic Winter Fields it really is affecting.
She finds time to smile and let go too on the ecstatic quasi-dance gem A Wall and even unearths a surprisingly catchy middle ground between Zola Jesus and Four Tet on Marilyn. Some feat. But that's just it – The Haunted Man is all about Khan's dexterity, ghostly and ruined as she butts up against a male voice choir on the title track, sweetly seductive over Oh Yeah's juddering synths.
Even without a stitch on her, Khan's just too unknowable to be a real mainstream contender, but The Haunted Man finds her more delightful than ever – and comfortable in her own skin.