Picks and Pans Review: The Innocence Mission

updated 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Innocence Mission

Bush is one of the most striking stylists in pop music. Attribute a good measure of that to her vocal delivery, which sounds like Cyndi Lauper with a very British stiff upper lip. By turns stern and breathily fragile in the lower range, her voice is quite ethereal in its upper reaches. Sirenlike, it puts her at an arresting distance from her material. As is usually the case with Bush, the melodies and harmonies on The Sensual World (Columbia) are adventurous and exotic. Lend an ear to the sensuous, snake-charmer allure of the title track or the mock woodwind, river-fairy piping on "Never Be Mine." The most exciting moments in the Bush canon have come when her reserve melts and the passion of the music carries her away. That happens here on "Love & Anger" and "Heads We're Dancing," but not often enough. The album is, though, often pretty and thoroughly characteristic.

Bush fans may want to check out Innocence Mission. Lead singer Karen Peris has a lovely, winsome voice markedly similar to Bush's, if slightly earthier. The music on the Larry Klein-produced debut of this Lancaster, Pa., group is decorously arranged neo-folk. Though many of the songs are more traditional in form than Bush's leaps of fancy, at their best, as on "You Chase the Light" and "Black Sheep Ran," Innocence Mission is creating music every bit as entrancing as the idiom's past mistress, old Kate herself. The similarity in sounds is a serendipitous treat for listeners. (A&M)

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