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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2005-11-02 - 12:57 p.m.

I wanted this entry to be full of fire and canyons of joy and billowy clouds of rejoicing, as today I received Kate Bush's newest album, Aerial.

It's been 12 years since the forgettable Red Shoes, so I--and millions of others--have been anxiously awaiting her new one, hoping the intervening years and the birth of her son would give her some new inspiration.

Well, I'm enjoying Aerial better than its predecessor, and there are some lovely moments, but if the album is great, it's going to be a slowly-revealed greatness not apparent on first listen. I say that with hope, because it may indeed turn out to be that.

Structurally, it is similar to my favorite KB album, Hounds of Love/The Ninth Wave in that it is divided into two parts--a collection of regular songs (called Sea of Honey) followed by a song-cycle with a story (Sky of Honey). And like that previous album, the song cycle is the more experimental and interesting, utilizing birdsong and other neat tricks.

The lyrics here are touch and go. The best reside in the ballad "Mrs. Bortolozzi," which seems on the surface to be about laundry, but I get a feeling it's about grief, told in allusive domestic terms about washing machines and empty shirts flapping in the wind.

"Pi" is a neat little waltz whose chorus is "3.1415926...etc."

The worst lyrics happen when she gets literal and/or leans on cliche, singing about her son (there are snapshots of him, too, ack!), or Elvis, or Joan of Arc...

As for the music: gone is the melodic inventiveness that made her earlier records such a listening adventure, replaced by a habit of treacly balladry that seems to have started on The Sensual World and hasn't let go of her since.

When she tries to get dance-y, it sounds dated, as if she hasn't listened to a record past 1986.

I'm trying to rein in my disappointment here, so I will try living with this record for a few more weeks...

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