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 Trent Reznor.
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.