Hounds of Love by Kate Bush starts very strongly with the classic Running Up That Hill. The softness of the soldier drums and keyboards allow Bush’s dramatic singing style to take centre stage whilst the calmness of the music provides a gentle introduction to the album.
This is followed by the catchy single Hounds of Love with its sweeping, powerful delivery contrasting nicely with the cheery ‘do-do-do-do-do’ backing vocals. The crashing drums and strings help make this my highlight of the record. The Big Sky is another catchy tune, driven by a Talking Heads-like rhythm, through a gospel choir by someone with the youthful energy of Björk.
Things mellow sharply with the much slower Mother Stands For Comfort. Unfortunately I find the shift from such a lively opening section too abrupt, disrupting the flow of the record. Cloudbusting would have followed much more smoothly.
It is in the middle of the album where the experimental and artistic nature of Bush’s writing comes to the fore. The radio snippets that intercut the beautiful piano-based Dream Of Sheep are taken to another level in the rather odd Waking The Witch, which begins with a dreamy range of whispers to wake up before suddenly bursting into a roaring nightmare. Things get more varied with the Asian sounds of Watching You Without Me and the Celtic Jig Of Life, which builds to some Pet Shop Boys-style speak-singing.
Overall this is an interesting album that takes a while to get your head around. The opening few songs are very accessible, cheery pop, however the second half of the record is more dramatic and experimental, full of a range of styles and influences. Themes of sleep, dreams, birth, life and death run through the record, all delivered in Kate Bush’s theatrical and wonderful voice.