With Natasha Khan’s talents for creating atmospheric themes throughout her albums, it was only a matter of time until she released an entire novel of an album. Alas, in the end it took 10 years since the release of her début “Fur and Gold” and even 4 years after the last album.
Now, “The Bride” is here and it is quite beautiful.
The album tells the story of a young bride left at the altar by fate, as her lover died in a car crash on the way to the church they were gonna be married in. Oh, the humanity! The bride then goes on a road trip full of emotions, withdrawal from life, a yearning for her lost love on the very streets she lost him on and finally a step back towards life.
Khan herself describes the story as a metaphor for relationships in general. And yes, it is quite taunting, this tragic romance of losing your partner before your life together actually starts. With this, though, the ideal of a partner who never got to reveal his real everyday, banal self, weighs more, or rather differently on the bride than the loss of someone she already spent her whole life with.
On her fantastic literary blog, Maria Popova quotes Virginia Woolf’s view on love in relationships: “life – say 4 days out of 7 – becomes automatic; but on the 5th day a bead of sensation (between husband and wife) forms which is all the fuller and more sensitive because of the automatic customary unconscious days on either side.”
However, Khan’s protagonist can never enjoy this fulfilling love but is caught in the first love storm of emotions. Maybe that’s why she flees from her emotions, her thoughts of what could have been and traces the steps of her lover. At one point (“Land’s End”) she even seems to consider following him completely, “Past the motorways and city lights, let my soul be free and spirit fly”, the tragic heroine sings.
But in the end she decides to trace back, back into life (“I will love again”) and the last song may or may not be the happy end, considering whether you think that she found someone new to “lay on your bed and dream together” or whether she went back to the ghost in black.
The music is as much Zeitgeist as it can be. Khan uses a lot of synths and her music videos reference 70s, 80s road movies, shlock horrors (I am thinking of 80s vampire movie “Near Dark”) and according to her “Wild at Heart” and “Bambi” (I guess, the loss in this movie is quite haunting for millions of kids). But the music itself is not a reference to the 80s. By now, Khan has cemented her eerily, light and dramatic sound deep into the here and now and “The Bride” is one of those albums that are symbols of their time (like Peter Gabriel’s “So”, like The Smiths “The Smiths”).