Selected journalists are being allowed to listen to Aerial at EMI offices to write up preview pieces before actual review copies are distributed. Pete Paphides in The Times (14th October edition) has written one such report based on his first hearing, and while he indentifies tracks he wasn’t keen on first time round (read the full preview here) and thus rates the album 3 out of 5 stars, this has gotten fans very excited indeed. Here are some highlights: “Named after her son, Bertie is a mother’s mad love alchemised into song. “Sweet kisses/ Three wishes,” she sings, “Lovely, love-ly Bertie.” Over and over again, repetition reduces the two words into tongues of adoration. And what instrumentation do you choose when trying to do justice to the greatest love of all? Why, Renaissance-era strings of course…the first CD, A Sea of Honey…yields a brace of songs that are among her best. Mrs Bartolozzi is like a postcard sent from the most delirious depths of mourning. Laundry duties give way to a walk into the waves, and with it the low wheeze of a single cello – the song’s two halves joined by Bush repeating a phrase. Not just any phrase, but the phrase “washing machine”. Twice. The same themes of loss seem to recur on A Coral Room. Here, her woozy depiction of “the spider of time…climbing over the ruins” of a city comes into stark, startling focus when the singer’s dead mother is invoked through a single item, a favourite brown jug. “It held her milk,” she sings, “And now it holds our memories.” Pi, which takes as its subject matter a “sweet and gentle and sensitive man” in thrall to the transcendental number of the title. “Oh he love, he love, he love/ He does love his numbers,” runs the chorus over a brisk percussive gallop. Hats off to her for being the first auburn-haired pop spookstress to address the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter…with nine tracks that variously revolve around birdsong, the change from day into night (and back again) and a painter attempting to capture the scene before him, A Sky of Honey coheres more readily than its “commercial” counterpart.
An Architect’s Dream and The Painter’s Link have Rolf Harris and Bush duetting over a spare string and piano arrangement. As his painting falls victim to a sudden downpour, he wearily exclaims, “what has become of my painting?” But she’s enraptured: “See the colours run…See what they have become/A beautiful sunset.” And so to the pagan abandon of Sunset, which has Bush offering herself to the dying light of the day over a deluge of flamenco guitars. As day makes way for night and restraint into catharsis, Somewhere in Between has Bush once again chasing intangibles and emerging with the album’s unquestionable highlight: a life-affirming chorus of hushed harmonies and whispering rhythms with more than a hint of the sexual languor that gave The Sensual World of 1989 its knee-weakening frisson. The final, eponymous, song on Aerial is also its most ambitious. A redemptive paean to the new day in which its creator joins the birds in their endless song — but not before a mid-song breakdown of hysterical laughter and trilling has ushered in a barrage of free-styling rock guitar.” The article concludes with “Five great Bush moments”.