After a twelve year absence, during which she married and raised a son, Bush re-emerged with a double album in 2005. Intriguingly, it both reflects her domesticity and is more deeply weird than the albums immediately before she went on hiatus, which sacrificed some of her personality. A case in point is ‘Mrs. Bartolozzi’, a sensual song about her washing machine. While Aerial sometimes uses light dance beats, its textures are largely gentle and acoustic.
Like The Hounds of Love, Aerial has two distinct halves. The first half is named ‘A Sea of Honey’ and it consists of standalone songs. Some are personal, like the medieval flavoured ‘Bertie’, about Bush’s son, while there are also tributes to Joan of Arc and Elvis. There’s the gorgeous piano driven ‘A Coral Room’, while ‘Pi’ finds Bush reciting the digits of the titular number.
The first disc is strong, but it’s the second disc, ‘A Sky of Honey’, that’s more impressive. A disc long suite about the outdoor experiences of 24 hours, from sunrise to sunrise, its typically creative textures include birdsong and Rolf Harris’ didgeridoo. The highlight is the dramatic ‘Nocturne’ with its memorably goofy line “We stand at the Atlantic, and we become panoramic”, while ‘Aerial Tal’ brings Aerial to a suitably climactic conclusion, with Bush’s swooping vocal performance one of the few intense moments on a gentle album.
Its often subtle, but Aerial is full of beautiful and graceful ideas, and constitutes a very impressive comeback for Bush after years away from the limelight; it’s easily her strongest album since The Hounds of Love.