ALBUM VIRGIN RELEASE: OCTOBER 4, 1999 REVIEW: OCTOBER 8, 1999
David Bowie never seizes to surprise the world. When everyone had counted
him out as a hopeless relic he suddenly teamed up with Brian Eno and
recorded "Outside". An album that on the one hand was framed by a silly
pseudofuturistic crime story, but on the other contained a whole lot of
really great songs, to some extent fuelled by Bowie's newfound love for Nine
Inch Nails. Then, in 1997, he had suddenly turned his attention to
drum'n'bass. Against all odds, the resulting album "Earthling" was at times
a really fresh sounding blend of hard jungle rhythms and heavy industrial
rock. Rumour had it that the next album would be produced by Goldie and
But instead Bowie made yet another sharp turn. "Hours..." is a very mellow
and mature album. An album that actually just sounds like David Bowie,
without any traces of outer influences. Rather, it sounds like he's more
influenced by his own back catalouge than by anyone else.
At the first listens, "Hours..." feels dangerously close to the polished
production of Bowie's worst eighties records. But after a while, the songs
grow and take shapes and often end up close to the calmest moments of his
early seventies. The best song "Seven", for instance, is an acoustic ballad
that could have been taken from "Space Oddity", if it weren't for the fact
that Bowie's voice starts to sound like its paying the price for all the
cigarettes he's smoked.
There are several other moments of toned down beauty on "Hours...", with the
single "Thursday's Child" and the moving "If I'm Dreaming My Life" being the
most prominent examples. The only bad song is the embarrasing "The Pretty
Things Are Going to Hell", with awful screeching heavy metal guitars. Still,
it gets a bit too soft in the long run.
And the fact remains: this is an
album by a 52-year-old for his own generation. I'm simply 30 years too young
to be able to fully relate to it.