Review Summary: Where Kate channels her inner Bowie
If you think about it, Kate Bush could have gone in any direction after promoting Lionheart
. Her second album had some high points and some cute vocal deliveries but ultimately came up short in quality. Kate's third album could have been another decline in quality. It could have just been Kate treading water with more adorable pop singles. Instead, the follow up was an important step into new territory. Never For Ever
shows Kate Bush at a much more mature stage. While Lionheart had embraced maturity quite well in comparison to The Kick Inside
, it didn't help Kate break out of her cute pop singer shell. Most people were still infatuated with her first single, Wuthering Heights. A new direction was something Kate needed to assert. She managed to do that just enough with Never For Ever.
The album features plenty of single worthy pop hits as usual but does offer much more collectively. Babooshka and Army Dreamers are examples of Kate exercising more of her descriptive lyrical style. On this record, Bush explores more concepts in her lyrics than previously. It's easy noticing the lyrical contrast with the album's opening and closing tracks. The opener, Babooshka is about a distrustful wife who ruins her marriage through seducing her husband under a pseudonym. The closer, Breathing finds Kate writing about her nervous actions through a more Bowie influenced style. From this point, Kate Bush adds even more variety to the mix. Musically, Never For Ever naturally expands thanks to a more layered sound. The album features a vibrant mix of wet fairlight synths, pianos, fretless bass and layers of strings. The performances of the album fit smoother than on previous records as Bush goes for a more varied final product.
Kate's third solo album was no masterpiece but a fascinating and necessary step in her discography. Bush's writing had finally evolved enough to the point where she could write without relying too much on image or style. Whether it's experimenting with her remarkable vocal range, creative arrangements, or vivid lyrics, Never For Ever shows Kate Bush improving in all the right ways.