Mainly Genius

Review: Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
October 13, 2009, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Although it might say ‘review’ at the summit of this post, in true Kate Bush style I would feel more inclined to refer to it as a collection of thoughts or an anthology of musings. If it’s star ratings you’re looking for then there could some disappointment in store. (What I’m doing here, is covering my own back. In case what I produce over the next few hundred words, is horseshit).

Thankfully, Hounds of Love is not horseshit and is in fact not any kind of excrement. The scene is clearly set from the moment the drums of Running Up That Hill tumble into view. You immediately know what decade you’re in, you immediately know that almost all of the instruments were probably programmed into a drum machine or a synth of some description, and you immediately love it for those reasons.

I’m the first to admit that musically, the 80s were not a particularly groundbreaking decade. Hip-Hop aside, all I really obtained was Gold by Spandau Ballet and a dislike for those horribly 80s, programmed sounds (see Phil Collins).
And yet it is these sounds that grace Hounds of Love. And rather than making me want to vomit, they have the opposite effect.
The same is heard on the album’s title track. Despite some questionable drums, it is again Bush’s clear, melodic vocals and clever arrangements that make that 80s sound become her own. Listening Cloudbusting and The Big Sky¬, shows Bush finding a heavy yet wistful sound, utilising her 4 octave vocal range to create another part of the Kate Bush, dream-pop sound.

For me, however, it is the ballads where Kate Bush’s talents can really be appreciated. Strip away the dated drums and unnecessary synth strings, and you are left with the piano and voice of songs like And Dream of Sheep and to some extent, Hello Earth (This Woman’s Work from the The Sensual World album is another excellent example of this, and for the record, my favourite Kate Bush song). Clocking in at 2 minutes and 46 seconds, And Dream of Sheep is one of the shortest songs on the album, proving that when it comes down to it, when Bush writes with just a piano to back her, she needs nothing more. While tracks like The Morning Fog have their place, it is apparent that no amount if tarting-up can surpass the 2 and-a-half minutes of enjoyment from some simply brilliant songwriting.

As you might be able to fathom, I like this album. But of course nothing’s perfect and despite the excellence found throughout, I will admit to some filler. Despite a promising start, Waking the Witch fails to reach the heights set by the preceding tracks, succumbing to a barrage of samples and suffering an uncharacteristic lack of real melody.

Despite this small blot, Hounds of Love is a musician and songwriter at the top of their game, not only capable of some marvelous moments of pop, but also able to engage all but the most iron of hearts. If you’re not a Kate Bush fan, then this is the showcase album and the one to buy.

If you are a fan then congratulations, you should buy it again.

Visit Kate Bush or buy on Amazon

Below is an example of a Kate Bush song that strips away the drum machines and samples, just leaving Bush singing at her best with only a piano for accompaniment.

Kate Bush – And Dream of Sheep


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[…] warrant stopping the presses (or at least suspending them for a short time) and, as reviews of Kate Bush and Simple Minds will attest, it’s not often that I find myself on the cusp of musical […]

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