Revisiting Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love amid ‘Stranger Things’ release proves album as hauntingly brilliant as ever

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” brought newfound attention to Kate Bush —- particularly her song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).” Revisiting the album the hit single calls home, Hounds of Love, proves the body of work to be hauntingly brilliant.

Aaron Boehmer, Life & Arts Reporter

Thanks to an ugly Dungeons & Dragons villain with bulging veins called Vecna, a red-headed tomboy named Max and a particularly dusty underworld, Kate Bush’s 1985 hit song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200 chart during the week of June 18.

While it may disservice Bush to credit her recent gains in popularity to the nostalgia bait of “Stranger Things,” the Hounds of Love lead single remains on the Global 200 chart at No. 4 ahead of the release of the fourth season’s final two episodes on Friday, July 1. Given the popularity of “Stranger Things” and Bush’s relevance to the show’s soundtrack, it only makes sense that her resurgence continues as the grandfather clock ticks closer to Friday. 

However, because it has become everybody’s new hyper-fixation, the public will eventually grow tired of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” and boot it out of the spotlight. After that happens and listeners look to the rest of Hounds of Love for another No. 1, they will be searching longer than poor Barb has been dead.

No other song from Hounds of Love compares to “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” in fame, but streaming numbers are not everything. In revisiting Hounds of Love, it becomes clear that where the rest of the album lacks in radio hits, it makes up for in conceptual artistry, captivating storytelling and experimental sounds.

Hounds of Love can be adequately described as a double-edged sword of love and solitude, cutting into an alternate universe far more beautiful but equally as haunting as the Upside Down. From the phenomenon of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” to the emphatic art rock title track “Hounds of Love” — which features Bush’s stylistic barking — the album bleeds between genres in a pulsing wound as exciting as it is painful. 

The songs “The Big Sky,” “Mother Stands For Comfort” and “Cloudbusting” offer an escape into simple pleasures, motherly protection and father-son relationships. Within this triad, Bush plays with pacing, switching from fast to slow, cheerful instrumentals to melancholy lullabies, subtly conveying the ever-changing nature of childhood. 

“And Dream of Sheep” shifts the album into the original seven-song Side B titled “The Ninth Wave,” which is noticeably more abstract than the first half of the album. Bush imbues Side B with an eerie tone as she tells the story of someone lost at sea, adding a voice as menacing as Vecna’s to “Waking the Witch.” Rescue comes for the adrift soul, as scenes of sunrise conclude the album in a finale track fittingly titled “Morning Fog.”  

Hounds of Love may not be laced with catchy radio tunes comparable to its lead single, but Bush’s experimental artistry is magic. She pulls listeners into an all-at-once fantastical, relatable and haunting world of her own creation. 

While the new season of “Stranger Things” offers Hounds of Love and its lead single a different platform and audience, it would be heedless to mark Bush’s recent gains in popularity as a comeback when, in reality, her impact never left. Instead, the new recognition simply reinforces the ongoing applause Hounds of Love always deserved as an unassumingly brilliant album. 

4 ½ deals with God out of 5