- 18 Sep 19
A concept album of sorts from art-rock maverick.
In the three years since Natasha Khan’s fourth album, The Bride, she moved from London to Los Angeles and initially stepped away from music to concentrate on script-writing. She was working on one about an all-girl vampire gang when the idea for Lost Girls surfaced. Indeed, many of the songs are written about Nikki Pink, the fictional protagonist of the vampire movie in Khan’s head.
A big fan of ’80s sci-fi, she dives deep into a world of synths and drum machines, which are as quintessential to that decade as leg warmers and shoulder pads. This could easily have formed the soundtrack to the latest series of Stranger Things.
Sometimes this synth odyssey works incredibly well, as on the Kate Bush-style dramatics of ‘The Hunger’; the stately ‘Safe Tonight’; and the seriously catchy ‘So Good’, which could be a Blondie out-take. In amongst the familiar wall of synths are hints of swirling Middle Eastern melodies. Khan spent many childhood holidays in her father’s home country of Pakistan, and has happily compared the heat and jasmine-scented air of LA to Karachi.
The problem with Lost Girls is that it has the feel of a fun idea perhaps taken too far, with the result that there’s a bang of novelty record about much of the album. ‘Desert Man’ is lifted straight from the ’80s power ballad songbook – so much so that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear Bonnie Tyler wrapping her tonsils around it. The instrumental ‘Vampires’ features lonely sax over a slow keyboard jam, like the opening credits to a TV show featuring lots of leather jackets with three-quarter length sleeves, neon lights and dramatic glances. The dramatic ‘Jasmine’ takes itself far too seriously, while much of the sentiment of ‘Peach Sky’ is lost behind the wall of ’80s production.
The problem with Lost Girls is that, while initially fun, the appeal quickly wears off, leaving a so-so homage to a decade that is generally given more credit than it deserves.