by Phil Scarisbrick
Eighties nostalgia has been in vogue for a few years now. From the pop culture machine gunnery of Netflix series Stranger Things, to the myriad of cinematic sequels, reboots and remakes of some of the decade’s biggest films, the public’s penchant for revisiting has been huge. This is also true of music, but the stakes are a little different. Treading the line between evoking the music of yesteryear and being simply derivative of it is as thin as one of Jane Fonda’s lycra workout suits. The opening bars of Bat For Lashes’ fifth album, Lost Girls, could slot straight into any eighties’ popcorn flick with elegant ease, but which side of the line does the record fall into?
The dense synth arrangements of the album’s opening pair of Kids In The Dark and The Hunger give the visage of derivation – as does the latter’s staccato and slide bass licks – but the melodies of Natasha Khan’s vocals are so wonderful that any concerns about originality fade away into hazy, synth-pop extravaganza. Jasmine’s spoken word verses evoke Madonna’s Vogue, while Safe Tonight would fit like a prayer alongside another of Madge’s big hits of the decade. So Good‘s backing track wouldn’t sound out of place on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and album closer Mountains is a power ballad that would give any Bonnie Tyler hit a run for its money. For all those call backs though, in the end they don’t really matter. The songs Khan has created are incredibly enjoyable to listen to, with affecting melodies and engaging deliveries.
Maybe then we shouldn’t be questioning whether Lost Girls’ overt use of eighties pop as an influence is derivative or not. Maybe the question we should be asking is, why the majority of other pop records peppered with the same influences don’t stand up to this one? For all I’ve harped on about the eighties, there is also a freshness to it that makes it even more sonically pleasing. Cherry picking tracks may give you a sense of nostalgia, but listen to the record as a whole and you’ll enjoy something that is simply a superb pop album.
Secret Meeting score: 79