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THE SENSUAL WORLD

Kate Bush

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Kate Bush The Sensual World album cover
3.43 | 132 ratings | 15 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The sensual world (3:57)
2. Love and anger (4:42)
3. The fog (5:06)
4. Reaching out (3:12)
5. Heads we're dancing (5:21)
6. Deeper understanding (4:46)
7. Between a man and a woman (3:30)
8. Never be mine (3:44)
9. Rocket's tail (4:07)
10. This woman's work (3:38)
11. Walk straight down the middle (3:48)

Total Time: 45:51

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Kate Bush / piano, keyboards, vocals
- Charlie Morgan / drums
- Stuart Elliott / drums
- Alan Murphy / guitars
- David Gilmour / guitars
- Del Palmer / bass, percussion, rhythm guitar
- Mick Karn / bass
- John Giblin / bass
- Eberhard Weber / bass
- Michael Kamen / orchestral & string arrangements
- Nigel Kennedy / violin
- Jonathan Williams / cello
- Alan Stivell / celtic harp, backing vocals
- Davey Spillane / uillean pipes, whistles
- Donal Lunny / bouzouki
- John Sheahan / fiddle
- Paddy Bush / whips, valiha, mandolin, tupan, backing vocals
- The Trio Bulgarka / vocals

Releases information

Emi records 1989

Thanks to fishy for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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KATE BUSH The Sensual World ratings distribution


3.43
(132 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(12%)
12%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(49%)
49%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

KATE BUSH The Sensual World reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars It is commonly agreed that this album isn't as great as the preceeding ones, but I wouldn't say it was any step backwards like Red Shoes surely was four years later. There's nothing like 'The Ninth Wave' suite of Hounds of Love here but why should there be? (Aerial makes return into that kind of album structure - I'm yet to hear it). I still remember when I bought Sensual World in the autumn '89 - there aren't very many albums I've bought at once, freshly released. Still its listening takes me back to dark and starry November nights, and in a way it still has a feel of 'the new Kate Bush album' to me, as opposed to diving into already existing marvelous output couple of years earlier. A disappointment? No! Well, maybe for three songs (the ones left unmentioned in my review).

Title track is one of her loveliest hits, Irish-flavoured and inspired by Molly's monologue from Joyce's Ulysses. 'The Fog' can be compared to the highlights of Hounds of Love: a mystical, atmospheric art piece narrating child's learning to swim. "Just put your feet down child, coz you're all grown up now", Kate's father speaks. 'Deeper Understanding' is movingly dealing with modern loneliness where computer replaces friends. I get goosepimples when The Trio Bulgarka joins in. They fit nicely also to 'Rocket's Tail' which has a great Gilmour solo. Imagery of that song is genuine Kate Bush. 'Between a Man and a Woman' and 'Never Be Mine' are fine sad tracks, at least the latter with the Fairlight familiar from e.g. 'Mother Stands For Comfort', though they're most likely put off by casual listeners.

'This Woman's Work' is a sensitive piano song like the title track of The Kick Inside. 'Walk Straight Down the Middle' (which appeared in CD only) is actually one of my favourite KB songs, for it has a dreamlike feel. The funny high "rrrr-aah" yells at the end are charming. All in all, this is dark-toned, autumnal, beautiful album with a lot of passion and light that only Kate Bush can create. She has never been that 'safe' to make an album where everything pleases anyone and I truly forgive couple of duller songs.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#56633) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Sensual World": "Mmmmmhhhhh...YES!" The keyboards style and the miscellaneous acoustic elements involved make this record to be almost classified in the New Age style. The keyboards, rather ambient, do not take too much room, so that one can really appreciate the acoustic elements, made of beautiful strings arrangements, uilleann pipes, cello, viola, Celtic harp, piano and percussions. Kate's vocals are slightly less nervous here than on her previous records, so that it fits better with the more mellow tracks. There are some electric guitar parts played by David Gilmour, which is not irrelevant although its solid rock sound. Just expect something VERY solid and refined from the fretless bass department, knowing the musicians involved are Eberhard Weber and Mick Karn, real masters of the fretless instrument. Again here, there are tons of excellent backing vocals, often sounding very exotic, in the Bulgarian style. "This woman's work" is absolutely OUTSTANDING: it is a very poignant & delicate track made of piano, orchestration and miscellaneous female vocals!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#57087) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm a bit in two minds about this album. If I could, I'd give it 3.50 stars: as a matter of fact, I listen to it quite often, and some of the songs on it are among my all-time favourites in Kate Bush's whole output. However, I can't avoid feeling something is not quite there, especially if compared to its two marvellous predecessors, "The Dreaming" and "Hounds of Love".

In any case, the good tracks are really excellent. The title track, inspired by Molly Bloom's monologue at the end of Joyce's "Ulysses", is positively erotic, with Kate's vocal delivery at is most breathy and suggestive. "The Fog", introduced by Kate's father voice, is probably the highlight of the album, with fantastic playing by celebrated violinist Nigel Kennedy emphasising the wistful, autumnal tones of the song.

Most of the tracks on Side Two feature Trio Bulgarka, a Bulgarian vocal ensemble who, along with the presence of numerous ethnic instruments, add a touch of intriguing exoticism to the music. "Deeper Understanding" is at the same time moving and disturbing, with lyrics dealing with the burning issue of people taking refuge from loneliness and alienation in the virtual world of computers - Kate was once again ahead of her times. "This Woman's Work" is another highly-praised song featuring Kate's piano and Michael Kamen's orchestra.

This album sees the collaboration of a number of titled guests, such as the already- mentioned Nigel Kennedy, David Gilmour, Japan's Mick Karn and Celtic harpist Alan Stivell. It is undoubtedly a more intimate, low-key affair than its two predecessors, similar in this to 1980's "Never for Ever", though somewhat more contrived and less innovative.

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Posted Sunday, November 20, 2005

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I find this to be quite a dull album but following Hounds Of Love was always going to be tough.Kate is at her most earnest here,both championing feminsism and getting inside the mind of a disabled person for one of the songs.Unfortunately the playful side of her music seems to have all but vanished and your just left with a 'down' feel to it all.Can't say its that bad though because the production and musicianship is still very professional so I think its worthy of 3 stars (but no more).

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Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars There are a couple of observations to make about this album that serve to distinguish it from Kate Bush’s previous works. This album is easily her most restrained in terms of tempo, slower and in most cases more starkly arranged with fewer and more exotic instrumentation. There are a few songs that feature the sort of syncopated beat that figured prominently on Hounds of Love and in parts of The Dreaming, but in general there is more emphasis on orchestral arrangements instead, and on unusual vocal cadences that give the album a much folksier feel than its predecessors. Finally, on pretty much every track each instrument is distinctly presented, so that the cello in “The Fog” is clearly audible apart from the violin; on “Reaching Out” the mandolin is quite discernable apart from the string quartet, and so on. This gives the music a very precise and lush feel, really a trademark of Ms. Bush but much more noticeable here than on her earlier albums. Despite the lack of a dominant single or any really energetic number, The Sensual World comes across as a very well-written and well-produced body of work.

The actual recording was a three-stage affair, with parts recorded in Dublin; the orchestra tracks made at the Abbey Road Studios; and still others recorded in Ms. Bush’s own home, which is equipped with a 48 track studio. In contrast with so many of her contemporaries, this has all the trappings of a very elegant piece of work, and is an album that requires several listens before the true beauty of it begins to emerge.

The title track has a strong Irish feel to it, accentuated by Davey Spillane on uillean pipes and Donal Lunny on bouzouki. I had to look up both of these instruments and, at the risk of offending the initiated, will crudely describe them (for those of us not as sophisticated) as something akin to a flat set of bagpipes and a mandolin, respectively. John Sheahan plays violin, with former Elton John sideman Charlie Morgan on drums and Ms. Bush’s long-time partner (at the time) Del Morgan on bass. The point here is that this was an all-star cast, and it shows. This is a beautifully arranged musical monologue of the closing scene from James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, and is probably best listened to by candlelight in an amorous setting.

Dave Gilmour adds his instantly recognizable guitar to “Love and Anger”, and brother Paddy Bush plays the valiha (uh…, it’s like a big wooden flute, okay? I’m not very good at these things). Ms. Bush backs herself on vocals with overlaid tracks, and sings about – well, a typical relationship (check the song’s title – that pretty much sums it up).

“The Fog” is an interesting work in that it’s a family affair, with Kate’s father adding dialogue at the beginning and middle. Even Dr. Bush’s spoken words come off as melodic, and the story here is of a very young Kate learning to swim with the tender coaxing of her father. The somewhat eccentric Nigel Kennedy lends his violin here, along with the late Alan Murphy on guitar and Jonathan Williams on cello. This is a very airy work with slightly dissonant strings and Kate almost whispering the lyrics. This seems like an awfully personal song for this album, but it makes for a great listen in a quiet setting and makes me want to go find my kids and hug them whenever I hear it.

”Reaching Out” is another child-like emotions, in this case yearning – for help, for sustenance, for comfort. Paddy Bush plays mandolin and Kate piano, and also with a string quartet arrangement to create again the somber and dreamlike feeling that pretty much permeates this album.

The front side of the album ends with “Heads We’re Dancing”, a halting rhythm and the story of a well-known historical asking for the singer’s hand for a dance in 1939. Though he is elegant and debonair, she finds the next morning that his face is splashed across the front of the newspaper in full military dress. This is just creepy, and I’d love to know the whole story behind how this came to be on the album.

A “Deeper Understanding” is the tale of an introvert who befriends their computer for companionship. Kind of a naïve theme considering the time in which this song was written, but it’s probably uncomfortably recognizable to several of the people who are setting in front of a keyboard reading this right now. Paddy Bush plays a tupan here (big bass drum), along with The Trio Bulgarka providing backing vocals. Some of the computer sound effects seem rather quaint today, but when this was written nearly twenty years ago this was probably a forward-thinking theme.

“Between a Man and a Woman” has a chanting cadence with minimal instrumentation, and retraces familiar territory first laid out on “Love and Anger”. This time though there is an interloper that Bush is warning off. Not sure who that is, perhaps a friend or family member, or maybe something more abstract. This is not one of the stronger songs on the album, and may have been more of a cathartic outlet for Ms. Bush than anything else.

The spiraling mood continues on “Never Be Mine”, which strikes me as a breakup song, but with some symbolism about burning corn fields and loss, I don’t know. German jazz musician Eberhard Weber lays down some very nice bass here though.

The vocals in “Rocket’s Tail” are almost completely a cappela for the first couple minutes, with harmonic backing from The Trio Bulgarka, until Dave Gilmour kicking in some guitar toward the end. I have no idea what this is all about, but I’m sure there is some sort of symbolism that escapes me. The protagonist is watching rockets being launched (fireworks, I assume), then proceeds to become a human rocket. Plenty of discord in the drum and guitar arrangement at the end, and completely over my head.

I believe “This Woman’s Work” was actually a hit single of sorts for the album, although not in the US. It did appear in the film “She’s Having a Baby” around the same time, and Ms. Bush has performed it live on a few occasions, or at least I know I’ve heard a live version of it. This seems to be another case of Ms. Bush having a bit of a PMS moment, or at least lamenting the seemingly futile labors of the fairer sex. This instrumentation is pretty much just some strings and Kate herself on piano.

The album release ends here, but on my cassette release there is one last track – “Walk Straight Down the Middle”, a song about coping –

“He thought he was going to die, but he didn’t. She thought should could never cope, but she did.

We thought it was all over, but it wasn’t…. – it hadn’t started yet. And walk straight down the middle of it.”

Coming off the rather extroverted Hounds of Love, this album seemed like a bit of a letdown by Kate Bush. I remember buying it only after being introduced to her work with that album and The Dreaming, and at the time was a bit disappointed in this latest release. It actually took a few years before I managed to start to develop an appreciation for the unusual depth of candor and personal emotion that is revealed on The Sensual World. It’s unfortunate that Ms. Bush didn’t tour in support of this album, because I believe that the live presentation of this material would have led to a much greater level of acceptance by fans. No matter, this is an outstanding piece of work, tempered only slightly by the somewhat bitter and strident “Love and Anger” and “Between a Man and a Woman”.

Overall, this would make an excellent addition to just about any music fan’s collection, but will more than likely require a few listens before it really begins to click. Four stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#81326) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 17, 2006

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lovely , lovely stuff! It was a long time coming but I am glad to say my investement in the Sensual World paid off. A more mature album than Hounds of Love makes this concept album a strong effort from Kate Bush. The opening title track gets down to business straight away as KB pulls no punches about the art of seduction. As other reviewers have noted this is an intensley personal album and I guess listeners will either love it or hate it. There is a lot of violin playing throughout well delivered by Nigel Kennedy. Davey Spillanes uillean pipe playing is a must listen. KB is often abundantly supported by top class guest players. The ubiquitous John Giblin ( Simple Mind's fame) on bass and guitar by the one and only David Gilmour.Stuart Elliot on drums as usual and the other Floyd connection being the late Michael Kamen on orchestral arrangements. This is a great concept piece and needs to be listened to in it's entirety hence splitting out the songs individually makes for hard work. I highly recommend anyone getting this who is into the more vulnerable, sensuous, fragile and emotional side of Kate Bush. ' The Fog' and ' Heads we are Dancing' are other highlights. A worthy four stars.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#89460) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Give me these moments back"

And just like that she lost her muse. The Sensual World was a huge step down for Kate and was the first after her amazing 5-album run of important works.

There are some really nice tracks on Sensual but when you listen to this album right after playing Hounds of Love, well, let's just say that "disappointing" isn't a strong enough word. Things start out well with the title track but in Love and Anger it is obvious Kate is approaching formula. Dave Gilmour's mediocre solo (and that's being generous) on this track is completely indicative of where Sensual World goes which is not too far. "The Fog" is quite a standout track with its dreamy mood and Michael Kamen orchestration. Another absolute standout is "This Woman's Work" which brings one back to early Kate briefly. But those few good songs cannot save the album.

Much of the rest of the album is rather unimaginative pop songs which make one wonder if Kate had expended her creative force or was simply burned out. Either way, The Sensual World is sadly an album for her fans only. Anyone else looking to sample Kate should stick to her best period, 1978-1982.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#119986) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Kate Bush sixth album The Sensual World is her artistic demise. Her previous album Hounds of Love showed an artist that was still willing to experiment and take chances but here on The Sensual World Itīs like she has lost the spark or her creative mojo if you will. Calling this cold album The Sensual World is very misleading as it is anything but sensual at least to me.

The music is very trivial only a few songs stand out. This is a very generic album. The title track starts the album and itīs Worth a listen, itīs an ok start to the album, even though I donīt like the celtic influence much. The Fog is the most emotional song here and probably the only really good one too. Rocketīs Tail shows a bit of experimenting, but too little too late. This Womanīs Work is a piano driven song with hints to the past. Unfortunately itīs only hints. I canīt say that I like any of the other songs very much. There are a few parts here and there but not whole songs I like.

The musicianship is as always outstanding, but Kate Bush seems tired and her beautiful voice isnīt as intriguing as it used to be.

The Production is terrible. Itīs not that I donīt like eighties productions but this one sounds very bad to me. The snare drum sound is really horrible and the sound on Kateīs vocals makes it sound cold and inaccessible. The keyboard and piano sound is also very bad. This is the kind of late eighties and early nineties sound that I really hate.

Kate Bush is my favorite femate artist, and Iīm so sorry I have to be this harsh, but I donīt enjoy The Sensual World. The quality in the music is still high, but the moods are lame and Kate just seems tired. This one is only for the fans/ completist and therefore only deserves 2 stars. This is very disappointing after the beautiful Hounds of Love. The problem is that this wasnīt the end. Kate Bush would go on a release and even worse album in The Red Shoes. Itīs a real pity that such an intelligent artist should end her career in such a way. I havenīt heard Aerial yet, but I really hope itīs better than this one.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#170229) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 08, 2008

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The Sensual World is an album where all potential is flattened by overblown arrangements and layers of sound that level out all emotional dynamics that mark Kate's best work.

By itself the lush production sounds perfect, too perfect possibly as there's little left of the old overwhelming expressivity under its smooth surface. Tracks like The Fog and Never Be Mine and are good examples of inspired song writing that are buried under a thick carpet of sound. The strongest cuts are the upbeat The Sensual World, the only remaining piano moment This Woman's work and Walk Straight Down The Midle. The other songs have not revealed any of their appeal to me and sound uninspired and overproduced.

The conclusion is simple, this album has spent too much time in the mixing studio. Nevertheless, after initial disappointment, my appreciation of it has slightly grown over the years. With 5 good to excellent songs it's a low 3 stars.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#262268) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'The Sensual World' - Kate Bush (7/10)

Achieving an association with the progressive rock scene through Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's discovery of her, British solo artist Kate Bush is certainly a songstress that polarizes the prog community. On one hand, her music is easily recognizable as being pop, but on the other, there's alot of added layers to her music that one might not fully grasp on first listen. While acknowledged to be past her golden era of music, this is my first experience with the music of this songwriter, and it's certainly been a ride with its ups and downs. At first listen, I will admit that I was a bit put off by Bush's voice and overtly 80's production. However, like all truly good pop records of its kind,'The Sensual World' gradually opened up to me. While at its core it is a simply written album, Bush and her collaborators put alot of real thought into the arrangements of the music here, creating a piece of art that may seem very much a work of its time in parts, but is generally a strong album in a style I admittedly have not given enough credit in the past.

While 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds Of Love' may be stronger works in terms of the songwriting, Bush's strenght on the album relies on the beautiful ways she adds depth to the songs. Over the course of the album, there are musical sounds extracted from a multitude of cultures. The first song (also one of my favourites) and title track 'The Sensual World' makes great use of Celtic pipe music; a really nice way to add some energy and interest to what have otherwise would have been too mellow to open up the album. Also here are choral sets, and some beautiful symphonic arrangements conducted by none other than Michael Kamen. Many of these pieces feel evocative of a dreamscape. Unfortunately however, there are a handful of songs that really break the mood by deciding to go even further into the doldrums of '80s pop. 'Heads We're Dancing' is an example of a song which may be a decent song one could hear on a nostalgic FM station, but really feels undeserving of being on the same record as more involving pieces of songwriting. 'Deeper Understanding' is another track I don't care for as much. Although it has great choral work in it, the anti-technology lyrics seem very tacky and saccharine, no matter how much they may pertain to modern times. What's wrong with spending evenings on a computer, anyway?

Possibly the biggest note of division I have with 'The Sensual World' and Kate Bush's work in general are her vocals themselves. Why her wispy and highly registered voice suit some moments of the album, other parts feels like her inflections and uncomfortable vibrato are unnecessary and detract from the effect of the music. However, like many of the other parts on the album, this was something that gradually warmed up to me with added listens.

Quite a good album by Kate Bush, certainly. It's surprising to me that I would be able to open up to a pop album like this, but alas, the formula of the music here is not without some faults, which run the risk of the making the overall product sound tacky and dated at times.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#411310) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 04, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The Sensual World feels like a companion piece to Hounds of Love, replicating many of the sonic textures of that piece - particularly the less commercial and accessible second side of that album. It also finds Kate in a somewhat subdued mood, and lacks the bursts of frantic energy that broke out here and there on Hounds. The sonic textures presented are intriguing but are also rather unsatisfying, and don't really seem to go anywhere; a cameo on guitar by David Gilmour feels rather lost and out of place, like it was added to the album simply due to a feeling that Bush should probably give her former mentor a platform rather than because there's any musically compelling reason for him to be there.

Most damningly, this is the first Bush album where I can't remember how any of the songs go once I'm done listening. On the whole, far from this woman's best work.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#595077) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 23, 2011

Latest members reviews

5 stars While The Dreaming is, IMHO, Kate's prog masterpiece, it is my opinion that The Sensual World is every bit it's equal--perhaps even more masterful in that it comes from a woman with nine years more wisdom and maturity than The Dreaming. 1. The Sensual World (3:57) is one of Kate's most overtl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1005041) | Posted by BrufordFreak | Wednesday, July 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars From 1989, THE SENSUAL WORLD is one of my favorite Kate Bush releases. I really enjoy many of the songs here: "The Sensual World", "The Fog", "Heads Were Dancing", and "This Womans Work" are some of the best things Kate Bush has ever put out. Using the Trio Bulgarka adds a wonderful twist to the mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#733627) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "The Sensual World" has a calm intimacy that you can't quite match on Bush's other more exuberant efforts. I totally agree with some other reviewers here: This is without the anger that "The Dreaming" had, and even after "Hounds Of Love", this is quite refreshing with a huge, deep feel to ever ... (read more)

Report this review (#519622) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, September 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Reading the other reviews, it seems like this is an album that one either loves or hates. None of the songs here are as upbeat and "poppy" as Running Up That Hill or The Big Sky, so I can see how some would dismiss it as bland or generic. However, I think this is just a result of the music being ... (read more)

Report this review (#267144) | Posted by nmccrina | Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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