Inspiring headbands on girls with long hair and bangs around the world, Natasha Khan and her musical entourage return with a stellar followup to 2006’s Fur And Gold.
The album has been titled Two Suns and seems to be a loosely based concept album where Natasha Khan’s true self is in solstice with her alter ego character christened Pearl. In addition, Khan’s motives were to create a balance of earthy, desert themes with the street smart underground.
The artwork portrays this theme as the cover shows Khan dressed like a desert mystic conducting a séance surrounded by wax candles while holding gold painted models of earth and moon. Meanwhile, the flip side of the album depicts Khan’s infamous alter ego, Pearl, whose stance is similar to the mystic other half, except her playground is a scattered art workshop with busted televisions and whose religion centers itself around the lord of disco whose sermons she attends wearing a hip black shroud. I know, I know…Sounds like a kooky back story for media attention and mildly pretentious at first, however, after listening to the album over a dozen times I can sort of see where she is running with this concept.
We all have different parts of our personalities. Some we share with the general public, some we only reveal to our intimate partners and friendships and some we keep deeply buried within ourselves. Throughout Two Suns, Khan explores the characters within herself and exorcises herself out of her own depths in the form of Pearl. Musically, the record is very diverse and encompasses many different moods. The album contains songs that are perfect for an array of emotions.
Opening track, “Glass”, begins with Khan’s haunting vocals hovering under a sea of reverb and then fades into Alex Thomas’ tom heavy drum progression toppling over atmospheric and delicate arrangements featuring synths, bells, pianochord, saw and even the pale ring of wine glasses. “Sleep Alone” begins with a dark pluck of guitar that is reminiscent of a moody PJ Harvey song and then propels itself into a bass heavy dance jam geared for lonely hearts after a night gone wrong proclaiming “for every high there must be a low”. The album’s first truly sedimental song, “Moon and Moon” trades the dancing for a pity party of abandoning love through bad life choices. “Daniel” dries the tears through memories of good relationships and sonically sounds like a joyous revisitation of 80’s synth jams that everyone seems to gleam over.
Listen: “Peace of Mind”
One of my favorite tracks on the album is the prolific anthem, “Peace Of Mind”, starting out slowly with a vibrant synth an aimlessly strummed guitar and then exploding into an uplifting gospel praised with the calming repetition of “Peace Of Mind”. Two Suns was partially recorded in the Californian desert near Joshua Tree and I can just imagine this song being the result of British raised Natasha Khan realizing the surreal beauty of the American desert…maybe even biting into an cactus for the extra boost as her vocals howl at the sunset.
Another profound song for me was “Siren Song” which explores the inner world of Pearl – Khan’s alter ego who battles between her own sense of good and evil. Beginning slowly with piano and extended vocal the song escalates into an emotional wave crashing down with triumphant percussion and restless strings.
Check out a fan made video for “Siren Song”:
Side Two of the record begins with the infectious pulse of “Pearl’s Dream”, an underground sketch city dance jam detailing the long and crazed nights of a wandering soul. The tribal battle ground of percussion in “Two Planets” suggests conquering the demons within. “Good Love” sounds like it could have come straight off of Bjork’s Vespertine record with it’s otherworldly halo of choral ambiance. “Traveling Woman” is a mid-tempo piano and drum jam that encourages a broken creative individual to never give up on their dreams despite the obstacles. The album closes with “The Big Sleep”, an ominous duet between Khan and additional vocalist, Scott Walker, who sounds like a choked up ghost that may even make the hairs on David Lynch’s neck stand erect.
Overall, Two Suns is an astounding sophomore effort from Natasha Khan & Co. It carries itself gracefully song after song and has a balanced mix of upbeat and slowly crafted introspective tunes. It also accomplishes Khan’s attempt to bring the listener into two worlds and explore their own inner depths. It is also an album that seems timeless and can be bring Khan into the future as one of the more important and steadfast indie songstresses of our time.
Furthermore, listening to the artist’s growth from her first record to sophomore success makes me very excited to hear what she will do next.