Bat For Lashes vs. St. Vincent

Bat For Lashes vs. St. Vincent

Bat For Lashes and St. Vincent give credence to the phrase similar but different. Or is it different but similar? Either way, I want to take a moment to contrast and compare the two, and see if we can’t get to the bottom of who is better, if that is possible.

The Set-Up

Both of these bands are actually pseudonyms for two women singer/songwriters; Bat For Lashes is Natasha Khan, and St. Vincent is Annie Clark. Each have two LP’s under their belt, with each of their second respective LP’s having been released in 2009. Both women are under 30 years of age; Natasha is the older of the two at 29 (Annie is 26).

Both attended music school, with Natasha graduating from Brighton University and Annie dropping out of the Berklee College of Music after three years. Natasha won the Vanguard award in 2007. Annie won PLUG’s Female Artist of the year in 2008.

Annie’s experience in the industry began as a member of Sufjan Steven’s touring band. Natasha began recording music on her own while working as a nursery school teacher.

Annie is a Libra from Dallas, Natasha a Scorpio from Brighton. Both are brunette? Okay I’m reaching now…

The Critics

Their albums have been met with mostly critical acclaim. It’s hard to say who has made a larger impression upon the industry. St. Vincent made it to 90th on the Billboard 200 Chart, while Bat For lashes made it all the way to number 2 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart. Pitchfork gave Two Suns, Bat For Lashes latest LP, an 8.5, and put her on their “Best New Music” list. St. Vincent received an eerily identical 8.5 by Pitchfork for her Actor LP, and coincidentally also made the “Best New Music” list.

The plot thickens.

The Sound

Bat For Lashes makes moody electronic music, no question about it. Her husky voice reminds us of Kate Bush and Björk at times. She conjures images of creepy dolls and lush forests and Smith’s t-shirts. Her arrangements are dense and dark, and her voice echoes against dank, damp, mossy walls. The sun shines through a swaying canopy in dusty, golden shafts.

St. Vincent sings in an also husky though more throwback style, in the spirit of mid-century acts like, I dunno, Lesley Gore maybe?Instead of gothic voo-doo dolls, Annie conjures up hallucinogenic angels flitting about heaven with neon halos. There’s a Lynchian-cum-Blue Velvet quality to her music. It is beautiful, but just a little bit off, like a porcelain patina over a rusted iron figurine.

The Verdict

It’s hard to say which of these bands are to be preferred. I think it depends on what mood you are in, and what type of a person you are. What is likely true, however, is that you would be hard-pressed to find a St. Vincent fan who doesn’t like Bat For Lashes, or vice versa.

What I find interesting is how rarely the two names come up in reviews and conversation. I’ve always noticed strong parallels between their accomplishments, even if the music itself is as different as The Stepford Wives and Lost Highway.

The Winner

Why, the listener, of course. But you saw that one coming, didn’t you?

Bat For Lashes vs. St. Vincent

Bat For Lashes “Daniel”

St. Vincent “Actor”

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