It’s impossible to listen to this striking album without thinking of Kate Bush – hell, even the surname is pretty much the same! Yet be assured, Tara Busch has made sure that this is a good thing.
For while the music sometimes betrays the feeling that Bush is actually there, it never becomes a case of outright plagiarism. Far from it – this is a lesson to all those derivative indie bands in how to use a strong influence for good. For what makes Tara Busch stand out is that on top of this influence, she has plenty up her own densely patterned sleeve.
It’s the vocals and the lyrics that are most Bush-like. “Could I become like an alien?” asks the opening stanza of Over The Radio. “I can’t stand to understand me” wails Superfriends / St George. Meanwhile Imaginary Audience has distant, semi-operatic swooning as the music pans out from an up-close foreground to its far off background, while Tag gets lost in a worshipful gaze, Busch murmuring “you beautiful thing” over and over.
Meanwhile the song titles give away Busch’s preoccupation with traditional Englishness. Pilfershire Lane: Simsbury 1978 could easily be from one of the four Peter Gabriel untitled albums, as could Superfriends St George. We Can See Mars is just as relevant, summing up the occasional bursts of telescopic production that give this music a real depth.
Yet where Busch moves resolutely into her own territory is in the production, where she takes some glorious vintage sounds and marries them with modern electronica. The title track does this exquisitely, punctuating its story with piano asides, then proceeding into a full bodied, drum-powered wig out, before ending with the spooky sound of a spooky grandfather clock in the hall. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the Busch sound, characterful samples updated by a mind that knows its way round a synthesizer and an effects processor.
On the other hand is a song like Get Drunk & Fuck, starting off like a punk-fuelled night of hedonism before it floats off to a strange place mid-song, from which it returns only briefly. Sometimes it does feel like Busch is visiting some very odd corners of the mind, and, once she’s there, doesn’t plan on how to get out of them.
You may have gathered this is an album that delivers more rewards the more you hear it, the unexpected shifts of mood and instrumentation all the more effective when you know they’re coming. It couldn’t have happened without Kate Bush, that’s for sure – but Tara’s musical personality comes through strongly, and leaves a lasting impression.