Of course, Kate Bush's everyday is not everywoman's. It's a deeply romantic, obsessive, occasionally antiquated world. A world many people consider extremely weird. And her weirdness has matured and deepened wondrously during her relative isolation living with her small family in the damp UK countryside.
And Disc 1 - aside from the opening cut - is not for the slow-witted or the easily embarrassed. Her impressionistic portrait of her mathematician husband explores his obsession with "Pi" (not as in steak and kidney, but rather as in the real number describing the ratio of a circle's circumference) in a sequence of chaotic numbers (in the sense of what one web programmer once called "random order"). Here's a sample lyric: "3.1415926535 897932 3846 624 338 3279".
Then there's the song about her new son "Bertie" Do not listen to this in public when feeling remotely broody. It will make you cry. Awkward, gangly like a kindergarten song, it's an iambic syringe mainlining tearjerking emotion to the willing user.
"Mrs. Bartolozzi" is a sensuous, obsessive tale of a lovers' tryst in a storm, told partly in Kate's voice, and partly in the family housekeeper's voice through the story of cleaning up the mess made. Only Bush could sing the words "Washing machine / Washing machine / Washing Machine" and create poetry.
The imaginative power of her child's mind fills the rest of this side with the brilliantly allegorical "How to be Invisible", the less striking "Joanni" and the magical "Coral Room".
Pop, and sometimes 80s-reminiscient pop, drives the more accessible Disc 2, called A Sky Of Honey. Packed with fresh international rhythms and hooky guitar, the lush swirling melodies of tracks like "Sunset" are catchy as they build to a Latin flavoured climax. Not that Kate has sold out to popular desires - you'll also be treated to a sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious full minute of her singing WITH the birds on "Aerial Tal". Quite convincingly. Not so convincing is the use of antiquated words like "Thee" and "Twixt" ("Somewhere in Between").
Though Kate is still weird, this is not for lack of moving with the musical times. "Nocturn" takes on a mild, dignified house flavour. The trippy pulsing, mad melodies and laughter of "Aerial" rip us back to childhood innocence with the insistent line: "I feel I want to be up on the roof / I feel I gotta get up on the roof".
Though a nice big LP was more Kate's style in the old days, (Ariel is also being released on vinyl by the way) this CD version compares well. It's prettily designed, with pictures, lyrics, and a sound waveform theme running through the cover art. Definitely nice to have and hold.
Aerial is gorgeously produced (by Kate Bush) and clearly turned out at her own pace and not at the usual frantic speed that resulted in so many disappointing albums in her past. It's an unusual album, and an inspired comeback.
- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
"Bush at her best - a finely constructed set of songs that engage without regard for anything else happening in the world of pop music.- Thom Jurek for allmusic.com
"Concept albums are not everyone's cup of tea - but this is a masterpiece."- Darren Waters for BBC.co.uk
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