Top critical review
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Intriguing, beguiling and occasionally brilliant
on 22 July 2003
Kate Bush's debut album is as close to a curate's egg as there is in her career. Throughout, there's no doubting her talent and, considering she was 17 when much of the album was written, it's a considerable achievement.
Some of the tracks are simply wonderful. The opening track, Moving, fades in with animal's calling and is blessed with a vocal mature beyond Kate's tender years at the time, plus it has one of pop's great lines - "You crush the lilly in my soul". The Man With The Child In His Eyes is a fragile gem, Wuthering Heights everyone knows and James and The Cold Gun injects some much needed pace into proceedings with considerable style.
The other tracks are never less than interesting but - and here's the rub - they conform to a strict set of rules. An interesting intro is followed by a slow verse and then a faster chorus, often in a different rhythmic style. It's a lack of variety that prevents the album being truly great, and as a problem it's even more apparent on Kate's second album, Lionheart.
Other things about the album are inconsistent, too. In places, Kate's vocals are simply fabulous, but at times she outwrites her young vocal chords here and ends up sounding reedy and stretched. The lyrics are uniformly well written, but some of them lack emotional maturity. Many of Kate's motifs are here already - classic literature, forbidden love, experiencing life through music - and all of them are handled in a way that was, at the time, unique, but all of them were to be handled better later in her career.
The big question is - should you buy the album for the stand-out tracks? Well, if you already own Kate's 3 best records - Hounds Of Love, The Dreaming and Never for Ever and you want more, then yes. If not, go for Hounds of Love first.