Time to release the Hounds finally. I was quite excited about this, I was dimly aware of its status as the big smash album, and already knew it housed two signature tunes. Rather naively I thought this meant a more commercial feel to the album.
I suppose it SORT of is for the first half, but ultimately it doesn’t feel any more commercial than earlier efforts (except The Dreaming perhaps). Not that it should count against it but I guess I didn’t find it as accessible as I was expecting.
(originally posted April 2010)
09 Running up that hill: Well possibly her 2nd most famous single, and definitely deserving of that. Great beat, easy to get into with a memorable chorus. I always assumed this was about trading places with someone who was going to die, but apparently it’s the old gender divide in play. I love the video, all very emotive. I think the 5-minute length detracts a little but it does get a bit more layered at the halfway point, and I like the way it plays out in the last 30 seconds.
09 Hounds of love: Now I know this originally from the Futureheads cover (which I LOVE), and sadly I’m always comparing it to that. I know that will attract outrage but that’s just the way it works sometimes. But I do love this, I don’t know what the hounds are a metaphor for in this case, can’t even guess, that probably doesn’t help me either. The title suggests she is running away from love (literally), maybe that’s why I can’t RELATE. I love the music though, great beat, string accompaniment etc
09 The Big Sky: Oh I love this too, really uplifting. Sounds a bit faux-mental in parts which I’m never a fan of, but very pleasant. I guess its frothy nature is suppose to be something about being young and looking at clouds. I love the African sound of the backing singers after a while, has a great energy to it. Does go on a little too long though, doesn’t seem to change much throughout its duration.
07 Mother stands for comfort: A change of pace now, reminiscent of earlier albums. Guess Kate is up to no good but Mother is letting it slide. I don’t know much about Kate herself, is this a dead mother song? It’s quite nice but not really into it.
08 Cloudbusting: I thought this would be a bit more familiar as the name rings a bell, but it wasn’t really. I love the strings in this, another little fragment that reminds me of Madonna’s Like a Prayer. It’s not a hugely exciting track but I am a little fond. I’m having a little trouble with the mixing on this album generally, maybe it’s just my speakers but she is a bit too loud or resonant, either the volume is too low for me to appreciate the production or her voice swamps it. Anyway, sweet song.
08 And dream of sheep: A mini-song, very pretty. Not really sure what it’s about, but it marks the return of that weird telephone-voice effect that I fell in love with during The Dreaming. Is that the shipping forecast I hear? I like it without really working out why, she seems rather fragile and just wants a big hug.
07 Under Ice: I’m proper scared of falling under ice, and Kate evidently agrees (unless, sigh, it’s metaphorical ice). Some of the lyrics do come over a bit “forced Year 11 poetry”, but I – again – like this for whatever reason. It’s like a bad dream, she realises this scary thing underneath the ice is HER. Then there is that weird humming at the end … *shudder* WAKE UP
08 Waking the witch: This took me a while, again I love the little recorded voices, they just really disarm me, keep giving me shivers when one pops up right next to my ear. By this point I’m expecting the scary juddery effect when the ‘witch’ wakes up, but then someone makes me even MORE surprised. I don’t know what she’s trying to do with this but it is all a bit disorienting and creepy. In a backwards way that makes me more fascinated by it. A definite love/hate relationship with this, but at least it’s not BORING. Look who’s come to SEE YOU!
06 Watching you without me: My ‘fan fave’ sense is tingling, so I’m braced for the worst when I say I’m not really liking this. I can’t understand what she’s saying for a large portion. I guess this about a broken relationship that Kate’s not getting over in a hurry. Just doesn’t do a lot for me.
07 Jig of Life: A full on Irish blowout now, which I like, got a nice sense of urgency to it without feeling too quaint. Glad it snaps out of it after about 1:45 otherwise it would have just been too repetitive. It’s all good but I’m having trouble having strong feelings about it. The “I put this moment … OVER HERE!” is a bit … hmm.
10 Hello Earth: Is it time for the doom and gloom again already? In time-honoured tradition this has a big impact on me. Sounds like Earth is OVER and Kate has jumped ship. I LOVE the instrumentation on it, so mournful and full of strings, the drama. THEN the choir kicks in with a funeral dirge for dead Earth, magic. This whole song just makes my hairs stand up on end. We aren’t given any reason as to why it happened, climate change? Asteroid-caused Tsunami? The more I think, I think Kate died in the disaster and is watching it from some remote spiritual outpost. Anyway I LOVE this.
06 The morning fog: Erm… change in tone much?! Hello Earth would have been a perfect (depressing) closer, why did they tack this fluff on the end? Doesn’t do it for me, feels like a bonus track and sadly dispels the gravitas of the previous track. Doesn’t really go anywhere. BOO.
SO. Well looking back at my scores, I think it went pretty well. It did lose its way in the 2nd half for me, but I guess she raised the stakes with the opening salvo. I doubt I’ll ever think of this as my favourite Kate album, but still pretty strong, and as always it has its moments.
Keepers for the iPod: Running up that hill, Hounds of love, The Big Sky, Cloudbusting, Waking the witch (!), Hello Earth.