You can tell when you are living in shitty times when people look back on the 1980s as a time fuelled on neon-coloured positivity and big shoulder pads, the halcyon days of an innocence now lost. The 80s was the birthplace of the neoliberalist agenda which has strengthened the power of society’s elite. Schools in Britain were banned from talking about homosexuality for fear of somehow encouraging it and AIDS was the obvious end result. Rape in marriage was not seen as legally possible in the UK as wives did not hold sexual consent in their relationship. The working-classes of Britain were demonised by Thatcher’s government as a means of justifying the active destruction of a range of industries, unemployment was at a high and publicly owned services were sold off. In short, the 80s were a pretty shitty time politically but hey – at least we had The Goonies and synths, eh??

Natasha Khan (AKA Bat For Lashes) probably felt she was making something of a zeitgeisty album on the back of the runaway success of Stranger Things, a way to make her more relevant by harking back to the sounds and blindly optimistic feelings of nearly 40 years ago. In truth, the production on Lost Girls seems so indebted to the idea of ramming the 80s vibe down the throat of the listener that many of the actual songs are lost, buried under the bland sheen of synths and weak sub-Soulboy style basslines. There’s even a saxophone on ‘Vampires’ which sucks the life out of an album that is already limping along by the time this sixth track turns up. Maybe its use is ironic and an homage to the muscly, topless and greased-up guy playing sax on the beachfront at the beginning of The Lost Boys. You know the one. His name’s Tim Cappello, by the way, and I have no idea how I know that fact. Some things just bore their way into your consciousness in a manner that this album won’t.

‘Kids in the Dark’ is the first track and quickly establishes the 80s vibe by way of sounding exactly the way people think the 80s sounded – arpeggiated keyboards, synth bass and a thoughtful drum machine being all lonely in the background. The bastard offspring of Madonna’s ‘Crazy For You’ and Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’, if only it were that good. This sounds like Chromatics from a few years ago and is just as bland as they are. The song evokes images of whimsical reflections on kids hanging out (she rhymes park with dark – urgh!) and perhaps of those times being lost. The washed-out production and vocal level result in some of the lyrics being hard to distinguish, but then you realise that your apathy towards the song isn’t helping discern the message.

‘The Hunger’ appears to reference The Lost Boys with lyrics about wanting to fly, hanging from bridges and the hunger inside. There is a pensive tone to the music underpinning the track but frustratingly this never fully realises itself, never reaching the crescendo it threatens. A much better topic of focus if you are going to write about The Lost Boys would be the obvious point that Grandpa is a vampire. Seriously, watch it again and tell me I’m wrong. What is the taxidermy/root beer subplot about? How does he know that there are too many god damned vampires in the town? And don’t give me the argument that he is seen outside in the day – he has sunglasses on the same way Michael does later in the film. Yeah, I’ve watched The Lost Boys a few times.

‘Feel For You’ skips by in an inconsequential manner apart from the fact that there was possibly an attempt to break the record for how many 80s style sounds could be rammed into one song. The guitar work is a fusion of INXS and Nile Rogers - if Nile Rogers wasn’t actually very good at playing the guitar in his trademark fashion. ‘Feel For You’’s twinkling synths and drum machine patterns bring to mind post-Dare Human League (i.e. when they were a bit rubbish) and the repeated lyric of the song’s title all add up to an amalgam of nothingness. It’s interesting that the song most centred on a human emotion is the most disconnected and calculated here. Perhaps that’s the point, that this is all an amazing postmodernist deconstruction of the current deification of a long-gone period as a way of reflecting on the current socio- and geopolitical issues we currently face. It’s not though, is it?

The best track on the album is ‘Desert Man’ and possibly only because this affords Khan the chance to ape Kate Bush as much as possible. It actually wouldn’t be out of place on Bush’s masterful The Sensual World, but when the highlight of an artist’s work is that it sounds like someone they obviously aspire to be then there is little of artistic merit here. ‘So Good’ is almost that. If you have an affinity for the teen films of Molly Ringwald then maybe this is for you! It’s the sort of song that would be played over a montage sequence in a John Hughes film, which is no bad thing at all.

Lost Girls is fundamentally disappointing. It is an album devoid of originality from an artist who should be reaching for the stars instead of looking back into the murky past for inspiration. No doubt it will sell by the bucketload, but then people like Coldplay and voted in the Nazis so what do they know.