Review: Kate Bush - Aerial
There was a time when an album was preceded by a 7" single, granted a 2nd if the material was there and sometimes even blessed with a third if the album was a smash. On the b-sides you'd get live and b-material from the recording sessions. Everybody who cared won. Now the emphasis is on the single as the only song of value. By decree everyone's a one hit wonder. The album is dead. Long live the album.
Kate Bush, on the other hand, dilutes Aerial by mixing a and b material to create a two disc set that should have been one, and even then it's not that good. It's easy to love Kate Bush and it's good to be supportive, but as someone who's followed every record since 1978's The Kick Inside I'm not going to stick a flower on this and call it a rose garden. Aerial is another Lionheart, which at least can be defended as coming out too quickly. Aerial is in some ways a lazy work, giving in to easy rhythms and repeating itself in tone and pace.
Disc one is front loaded with the best work, and I have to ask if this was a concession to the record label. "King Of The Mountain" is a classic, a subdued "Running Up That Hill" that teases of bigger and better things to come. "Pi" is thematically like "Experiment IV" and nobody sings number sequences as beautifully as Kate. Then "Bertie" offers a string and mandolin combination that sends you back to The Dreaming. So far all's well in Kateland.
Then "Mrs. Bartolozzi" lands and it's obvious Kate's gone stir crazy and needs to get out of the house more often. What makes it worse is that it doesn't stop at 4:35, instead it gets even more silly about washing machines and domestic mundanities. "How To Be Invisible" is the first Kate Bush song I know of that's so NOT a Kate Bush song. Stevie Nicks is in some ways the American Kate Bush, but I never expected Kate to write music that sounds like Stevie Nicks should be singing it. It's not a bad song, but still. Kate Bush has a "style". This is not it and it's not the only one on the cds. "Joanni" has a comfortable Peter Gabriel feel but is a b-side, along with Kate on piano on "A Coral Room".
Disc 2 is a wasteland. It's a season cycle of one, Spring, and I'll spare the details expect to say her son has a cute voice, a man should not sing lead on a Kate Bush song, I never thought Kate would go for the easy club groove or Latin rhythm, and "Aerial" is Steve Reich you can dance too.
Oh, Kate, you gypsy witch theater nerd. Come back to us.