Two Suns

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Two Suns
Studio album by Bat for Lashes
Released 3 April 2009 (2009-04-03)
Recorded California, New York City, London, Brighton, Wales
Genre Art rock[1]
Length 45:08
Label Echo, Parlophone
Producer Natasha Khan, David Kosten
Bat for Lashes chronology
Fur and Gold
(2006)
Two Suns
(2009)
The Haunted Man
(2012)
Alternative cover
Special edition cover
Singles from Two Suns
  1. "Daniel"
    Released: 1 March 2009
  2. "Pearl's Dream"
    Released: 22 June 2009
  3. "Sleep Alone"
    Released: 7 September 2009[2]

Two Suns is the second studio album by English recording artist Bat for Lashes, released on 3 April 2009 by The Echo Label and Parlophone. The album was produced by Khan herself and David Kosten (who also worked on her debut album Fur and Gold),[3][4] and features collaborations with members of Yeasayer and Scott Walker.[5] Two Suns was recorded in segments in California, New York City, London, Brighton and Wales.[3]

Upon its release, Two Suns was met with positive reviews from most critics. Additionally, it was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in 2009,[6] Khan's second nomination after Fur and Gold in 2007.[7] On 31 July 2009, Two Suns was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), for shipments of 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[8]

Concept[edit]

According to the accompanying press release, Two Suns is "a record of modern-day fables exploring dualities on a number of levels—two lovers, two planets, two sides of a personality", bringing reflection about "the philosophy of the self and duality, examining the need for both chaos and balance, for both love and pain, in addition to touching on metaphysical ideas concerning the connections between all existence." In Two Suns, Khan also presents an alter ego named Pearl, described by the press release as "a destructive, self-absorbed, blonde, femme fatale of a persona who acts as a direct foil to Khan's more mystical, desert-born spiritual self."[3]

Promotion[edit]

"Daniel" was released on 1 March 2009 as the album's lead single, reaching number thirty-six on the UK Singles Chart. Both "Siren Song" and the 909s in DarkTimes mix of "Sleep Alone" were featured in the first season of the American supernatural drama television series The Vampire Diaries,[9] while only the latter was included on the series' soundtrack album.[10] The song "Glass" was used in the trailer for the 2012 video game Assassin's Creed III: Liberation.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[12]
Robert Christgau C[13]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[14]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[15]
The Independent 2/5 stars[16]
NME 8/10[17]
Pitchfork Media 8.5/10[18]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[19]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[20]
Spin 8/10[1]

Two Suns received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76, based on 32 reviews.[21] Kevin Liedel of Slant Magazine called it "dark, but never needlessly so", and wrote that it "offers a rich, distinct world of subterranean lullabies, spacey timbres, and ghostly beauty."[20] Mark Pytlik of Pitchfork Media called it a "significant step forward from her debut" and "home to some of the year's most thrilling music so far."[18] Tim Chester of the NME described Two Suns as "a brilliant pop album", commenting that it is "epic in scope and ambition and requires a similarly epic patience to unravel its charms".[17] Barry Walters of Spin wrote that "this art-rock Joan of Arc gushes duality motifs that thwart narrative but overflow with moonstruck sensuality."[1] The A.V. Club's Sean O'Neal commented that "Khan's sublime voice easily distracts from any lyrical ponderousness, and it lends even lines about 'diamonds burning through rainbows' a dreamy sort of sense."[22] The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey called it "fantastic as well as fantastical", noting that "[w]hereas her debut relied on charisma and imagination to paper over the songwriting cracks, [Two Suns] is agleam with striking melodies".[15] Melissa Maerz of Rolling Stone felt that "[s]omehow, the music melts away the potential for hokeyness ... Khan proves she's a powerhouse under her billowy sleeves."[19]

Allmusic's Heather Phares complimented Khan's "considerable skills at telling a story and setting a mood", but critiqued that the album's massive concepts and sounds require a little more time and patience to unravel to get to the songs' hearts. It's clear that Khan's talent and ambition are both huge".[12] PopMatters' Erin Lyndal Martin felt that Khan "can do much better than some of the songs, which are weakened by synths, sophomoric lyrics, and sonic clutter." Martin continued, "While the weaker songs are definitely not throwaways, they miss the mark in more than one way."[23] Andy Gill of The Independent found its "patina and keyboard tones" "blander" than Fur and Gold's music and said that it is difficult to "take Khan's stories seriously when she slips into blather about 'a stranger in a strange land' and 'a vast and unknowable universe'."[16] Robert Christgau of MSN Music found her "as ill-informed about astronomy as she is about love" and panned her lyrics as "ill-informed mentions of goodbye beds and licking her clean."[13]

Slant Magazine placed the album at number ninety-seven on its list of the best albums of the 2000s decade.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Natasha Khan, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "Glass"   4:32
2. "Sleep Alone"   4:04
3. "Moon and Moon"   3:09
4. "Daniel"   4:11
5. "Peace of Mind"   3:29
6. "Siren Song"   4:58
7. "Pearl's Dream"   4:45
8. "Good Love"   4:30
9. "Two Planets"   4:48
10. "Travelling Woman"   3:48
11. "The Big Sleep" (featuring Scott Walker) 2:54

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Two Suns album liner notes.[28]

  • Natasha Khan – lead vocals, producer (all tracks); backing vocals (1–8, 10); drum programming (1, 2, 4, 7, 9); engineer (1, 2, 4, 7, 8); synthesiser (1, 2, 4–9, 11); guitar (2, 4, 5); harmonium (3); percussion (3, 4, 8, 9); piano (3, 6, 8, 10, 11); bass synth (4, 6, 8); drums (4, 5); vibraphone (6, 9); handclaps (7, 9); organ (8, 10); art direction, booklet artwork, concept
  • Adem – sampled wine glasses (1)
  • Marcie Allen – backing vocals (5)
  • Tom Asselin – guitar, engineer (10)
  • Tim Bader – assistant engineer (8)
  • Matt Boynton – engineer (8)
  • Ben ChristophersMarxophone, pianochord (1); synthesiser (1, 4); guitar (5); phonofiddle (6)
  • Phil Costello – US management
  • Devon Dunaway – backing vocals (5)
  • Mark Eastwood – mixing assistant (1)
  • Abi Fry – viola (1)
  • Brian Hale – guitar (8)
  • Tony Hornecker – set design
  • Chris Keating – drum programming (2, 7)
  • David Kosten – producer, engineer (all tracks); mixing (1–10); drum programming (1, 2, 4, 7, 9); synthesiser (2, 5, 7); synth drone (6); percussion (7, 9); finger snaps, tom-tom (9)
  • Matt Lawrence – vocal engineer (11)
  • Kath Mann – backing vocals, saw (1); violin (4); viola (6)
  • Devin Maxwell – timpani (4)
  • Andrew Murabito – graphic design
  • Mike Nesci – engineer (5)
  • Dick O'Dell – worldwide management
  • Lydia Rhodes – backing vocals (5)
  • Lou Rogai – backing vocals (10)
  • Robert Roseberry Jr. – backing vocals (5)
  • Dan Sanders – photographic production
  • Rachael Sell – backing vocals (8)
  • David Benjamin Sherry – photography
  • Alex Thomas – drums (1, 6, 10); percussion (1, 4); timpani (6)
  • Brian Thorn – assistant engineer (2, 4, 7)
  • Ira Wolf Tuton – bass (2, 4, 7)
  • Scott Walker – additional vocals (11)
  • Caroline Weeks – backing vocals (1, 3); flute (1, 6); bells, synthesiser (1); handclaps, percussion (3)
  • David Wrench – engineer (1–7, 10)

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Formats Edition
Australia[43] 3 April 2009 Spunk Records CD, digital download Standard
Germany[44] EMI
France[45] 6 April 2009
United Kingdom[46] The Echo Label, Parlophone CD, LP, digital download
United States[47] 7 April 2009 Astralwerks
Finland[48] 8 April 2008 EMI CD, digital download
Italy[49] 17 April 2009
Germany[50] 4 September 2009 CD+DVD Special
United Kingdom[26] 7 September 2009 The Echo Label, Parlophone
Finland[51] 9 September 2009 EMI
France[52] 5 October 2009
United States[53] 3 November 2009 Astralwerks
Japan[27] 6 January 2010 P-Vine Records CD, digital download Standard

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Walters, Barry (19 March 2009). "Bat for Lashes, 'Two Suns' (Astralwerks)". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved 31 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "Watch the 'Sleep Alone' Video". batforlashes.com. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Scott, Bruce (20 January 2009). "Album Review: Bat for Lashes – Two Suns". Prefix. Retrieved 20 March 2009. 
  4. ^ "Bat For Lashes announces new album plans and tour dates". NME. IPC Media. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2009. 
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  6. ^ Swash, Rosie (21 July 2009). "Mercury prize 2009 nominations announced". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
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