Somewhere in the course of 18 studio albums, Of Montreal became a weirdness-obsessed veteran of indie rock. The band’s latest pushes some of the same thematic boundaries as their body of work, plus a few new musical ones.
Bat For Lashes’ newest release, The Bride, was born from a short film for a collaborative project called Madly, a series of six short films about the different incarnations of love. A concept album through and through, The Bride is as narrative as it is musical.
The album narrative follows the titular bride through the days before her wedding, and then into the chapel where she learns her future husband has died. From this point, The Bride is a tale of self-discovery, awash in grief, with the hope of moving on. Within this framework, singer and multi-instrumentalist Natasha Khan is fearless, playing into the emotional tropes of romance and despair with glistening deftness. Album opener, “I Do” is saccharine and syrupy with lyrics “tomorrow you will take me for your bride/and all of the grey skies will blow away,” sang in Khan’s angelic vibrato. In an instant she captures the excitement, the nerves, the overwhelming romance we expect without feeling disingenuous.
Perhaps the most impressive feat in Khan’s understanding of the tragic world she’s created is in the songs following “In God’s House,” where the character learns of her husband’s death. Khan keenly interprets the aimless nature of grief and the path to recovery. “I Will Love Again” and “In Your Bed,” two back-to-back songs near the end of the album are a perfect example. The heavy, reluctant bass of “I Will Love Again,” mirrors the timid hope in the lyrics, “One of these days/one of these nights/I will love again.” Listening, you feel, alongside the bride, that moving on is possible in whatever small way. But immediately following that, “In Your Bed” insinuates a step backward into despair as Khan’s tragic soprano laments, “There’s a cyclone blowing through my head/I just want to be in your arms instead.”
As a recommendation, although it’s an investment in time, listen to The Bride in its entirety twice. Listen once for the musicality, to appreciate the low synths, simple rhythms and the sky-high notes Khan hits unexpectedly. But after that, listen for the story contained in the lyrics, for the depth of the character and the moments of brutally relatable sorrow.»
– Sarah Eaton