Kim Carnes

Barking at Airplanes

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No matter how hard she tried -- and she tried very, very hard -- Kim Carnes couldn't get either Voyeur or Café Racers, her two follow-ups to Mistaken Identity, into the consciousness of the audience that flipped for "Bette Davis Eyes." There were some hits along the way, but they were minor ones. Clearly, it was time for a change, and for 1985's Barking at Airplanes, she broke from convention, stepping up to the boards to co-produce the record. This was the change that was needed, as it resulted in a cohesive, consistent album -- the best she made since Mistaken Identity. It wasn't a drastic shift in sound, so perhaps it's surprising that the record is markedly better than either of its immediate two predecessors, but the key is focus. Although there are elements of post-new wave pop, arena rock, adult contemporary, and dance evident throughout the album, they're fused together into a sleek, insistent sound. This isn't entirely different from what other artists of her style and era were doing at the time -- this, indeed, sounds like what adult-oriented pop of the mid-'80s sounded like -- but it fits Carnes very well, not just because her great voice sounds ideal in this setting, but because she does this music very well. For all of her hard work, Carnes was rewarded with a moderate hit -- an album that reached 48, while spawning a number 15 hit in the title track. It might not have been up to the standards of Mistaken Identity -- it was closer to Voyeur standards, really -- but it still qualified as a welcome comeback, and it's stood the test of time as one of Carnes' best records.

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