Music Retro-spective: Hounds of Love (1985) Review
Rediscovering Kate Bush's iconic 80s album
by Rory Buccheri
As an unrivalled masterpiece in the discography of pop heroine Kate Bush, Hounds Of Love is a record that satiates its listeners today as it did when it was first released in 1985. Stylistically speaking, it has all the kicks and punches of the 80s: from the synth arrangements, to the back voices and transitions between songs.
The record starts with two of the strongest tracks in the singer’s career: ‘Running Up That Hill’, luring and haunting, and the title track, ‘Hounds of Love’. If the former constitutes a musical tension building up and never fully resolving, the latter is deeply energetic and, with its fast pace, manages to take us all the way to the apex.
Darker in texture and harder to navigate, ‘Under Ice’ strays from the upbeat positivity boasted in the first two tracks. Combining successfully prog rock and strong notes of Sitar, ‘Waking the Witch’ is one of the tracks that gives us insight into the underlying concept behind the album. This journey, of Kate as artist and Kate as woman, talks of originality, loneliness and incommunicability.
Even though Hounds Of Love is hardly the most daring record in Bush’s career, it is a true milestone in her artistic career and, in general, for 1980s pop.
Bush’s 5th self-produced record reveals something of the artist that previous records had left aside: The Kick Inside (1978) is an anthem to pop, a hymn to youth punctured with literary references, and the record that ultimately consecrated Kate Bush to the altar of pop. Lionheart (1978), on the other hand, doesn’t shy away from chewing rock-hard themes such as rape, religion, incest, murder and many more. But Hounds Of Love is iconic. Not just because of the success it meant for the artist, whose single ‘Running Up That Hill’ made the top charts in the US, but because of what it means for her evolution as an artist. Hounds Of Love is a celebration of growth, of combining dare and exploration and, ultimately, a sprint to new musical heights.