The triumphant return of Kate Bush after a twelve-year absence will go down in history as the most lush and erotic portrayal of domesticity ever recorded. Aerial is a two-disc set of sixteen songs, the first called A Sea of Honey and the second, A Sky of Honey, as taken from the lyrics of “Sunset.” Each disc is an operetta, each to both the beauty and the ordinariness of everyday life. Songs vary between separate ideas and themes, but all come together as one gorgeously played and produced album that will enlighten with every spin. The album’s cover (which makes one long for the days of vinyl) is a perfect mood setter as the sun rises / sets over mounds of land reflected in the water, making it look like a soundwave pattern.
The first song, and first single from Aerial, is “King of the Mountain,” a song about Elvis, the rumors of his whereabouts and even a pop culture reference to Citizen Kane. Bush’s wonderings about the possibility that Elvis is alive and reflecting back on his life is compelling, and with one of the funkiest drum and bass lines she’s ever had, it’s pure magic. “Pi” is a song not only about the love of numbers, but about the limitations that a mathematical mind may have. Plus, how many songs have you heard recently in which the vocalist sings the digits of pi to 116 places? Songs continue about her son set to Renaissance lutes and strings, the eroticism of clothes in the washing machine as they tangle together, and the best song about Joan of Arc since “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”
The second disc takes us through an entire day in summer. It begins, very Pink Floyd like, with Bush’s son Bertie remarking on the birds in the sky which sound as if they’re speaking (which is in fact Bush trying to sound like a bird). As the day progresses, more birdsong is heard, the whistling of the wind, all amidst gloriously meditative music that varies somewhere between classical and jazz. At mid-day, she comes across a street painter who is capturing the beauty of life just as she is on this album. Day turns to “Sunset,” a jazzier number, before the “Nocturn” comes. Finally, as a bookend to the entire affair is the title track, which features Bush laughing to a big build-up finish complete with crunching guitars and driving bass. The night has turned to day again, the celebration of which is evident.
Aerial is a triumph. It’s Kate Bush’s most intricately planned and developed album to date and is as lush and gorgeous as ever she has released. Kate has had a long and varied career, starting at the tender age of nineteen and now making a long overdue return as she nears fifty. She may not be hitting the high notes that she once did with “Wuthering Heights,” but her voice is still fresh and magnificent, even while singing about the terribly mundane.
Kate Bush – The Sensual World
Peter Gabriel – Us
Stina Nordenstam – The World is Saved