Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Sensual World

This is an album that I can't help but appreciate though it remains my least favorite Kate offering, despite the title track and the heartwrenching "This Women's Work." The production values are that of an 80s blockbuster: shamelessly pompous, overdone, saccharine-fueled, hi-fi-ready sound forever stuck in the time it came from. And yet you can tell it's Kate all the way. Highlights include the surprisingly intense art-rock track "Heads We're Dancing" (amazing fretless bass work here by Mick Karn) and the immensely emotional cyber-drama of "Deeper Understanding" (with its strangely beautiful mix of robotic vocals and Trio Bulgarka's choral singing). 

Working closely with the Trio, a troupe of Bulgarian folk singers, and traditional Celtic instruments including Uillean pipes, Bush creates a romantic and bewitching album of unmatched sensuality; it's The Kick Inside all grown up. The instrumentation is essentially rooted around Bush's piano and is the lushest and most gorgeous of any of her records up to this point. 

Alongside the romantic bent and Bush experiments like "Rocket's Tail," which marries the Bulgarian singers with an epic David Gilmour guitar solo, the album is surprisingly straightforward. 

"Love and Anger," "Reaching Out," and "Between a Man and a Woman" are obviously Kate Bush songs and are all melodic and unique, but they are surprisingly easy to digest and take in. Similarly, she sounds comfortable in a more commercial-sounding skin on "Walk Straight Down the Middle" and the dance-inspired "Heads We're Dancing."

Bush here creates an album that marries the originality and uniqueness of her other albums with a straightforward pop/rock sound. It is a romantic and bewitching album, full of beautiful melodies and memorable instrumental lines, and while it's never boring or plain, yet, it remains the least played LP in my collection.

[While I listen to vinyl almost exclusively these days, iTunes and Spotify insist that my list of most listened to KB LPs is (Hounds of Love, The Kick Inside, Lionheart, Never For Ever, The Dreaming. It seems that The Sensual World, The Red Shoes, 50 Words and Aerial failing to make the cut as LPs, with "Moments of Pleasure," "Top of the City," "Snowed in At Wheeler Street," "Pi" and "Mrs. Bartolozzi" my only selections so far in 2018.]   

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