My Top 20 Songs of 2012 #6: Bat For Lashes – ‘Laura’

BatForLashes

When Paul McCartney woke up with the melody for Yesterday in his head, he was convinced that he’d plagiarised it, because it felt so familiar to him. Whilst my personal feelings on that song are that I wished he’d bloody well stayed in bed, it’s a good starting point to discuss Bat For Lashes’ gorgeous ‘Laura’. This I because I found it hard not to imagine that Natasha Khan didn’t have a similar nagging doubt when she had finally finished the track*.

It’s a stunningly simple and subtle arrangement, which foregoes the obligatory orchestral backing so beloved of the modern piano balladeer, in favour of an understated smattering of woodwind and gentle brass. It works perfectly, as with such an irresistible chorus, any sweeping string arrangement would only detract from the power of the song.

Certainly the lyrics (“you’re more than a superstar”) could feel very trite without the sparse nature of the arrangement, which pushes Khan’s tremulous voice to the fore, letting you feel that any sentiments on display are, at best, bittersweet. The narrator of the song is trying to persuade her friend to pull herself out of despair and to “drape your arms around me and softly say: ‘can we dance upon the tables again’”, but it’s clear that she doesn’t truly believe in her own persuasions: “put your glad rags on and let’s sing along… to that lonely song”. It’s a stunning, heartbreaking song.

 

 

*yes, I do realise that it was co-written with the guy who penned Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’

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