While The Kick Inside was an excellent album, Bush reshaped the direction of her career with Lionheart. This time the focus is more on atmosphere and texture. Bush was pressured by her record company to come up with a new album, and only had time to write three new songs, and had to use earlier leftovers to fill up the album. Her singing is often grating and unpleasant, while the material lacks the memorable melodies and hooks that Bush displayed in abundance on her previous album.
None of the songs here rank among Kate’s best, while several are boring (‘In The Warm Room’) or almost un-listenable (‘Fullhouse’). Lionheart is not devoid of interest, and it has more personality than The Kick Inside but it goes off the deep end in the second half, and Bush herself dismisses it as sub par.
On this unwieldy album catchiest equates with best, and the best songs are ‘Wow’ and ‘Hammer Horror’. The former mostly functions as a showcase for Bush’s vocals, drawing the title word through her impressive range, although the piano-based verses are also pretty. ‘Hammer Horror’ is too bizarre for radio, but it’s memorable enough with Bush’s vocal histrionics. There are also pretty ballads; ‘Symphony in Blue’ gets the album off to a nice start, while ‘Oh England My Lionheart’ is humble and likeable. ‘Don’t Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake’ and ‘Coffee Homeground’ are weighed down by a mixture of annoying vocals, overarching cuteness and lack of melodic power.
Lionheart does give an indication of the more unique sides of Bush’s talent that apparent on The Kick Inside, and it’s a pointer to the direction her career would take. Despite being difficult, it will still interest established fans as it is hardly lacking in personality or creativity; just don’t start with it.