When “Paper Monsters” was released in 2003 it was the first time we got to see how Gahan performed not only as a singer, but as a songwriter too. The result was, in my opinion, a very weak album that I still haven’t returned to. But on the last Depeche Mode album “Playing the Angel”, Gahan had suddenly written three songs that made it all the way to the final cut, including “Suffer Well” which is my favourite track on the disc. So now here is another attempt at a career outside Depeche Mode called “Hourglass”. We have already been treated to a promising single (review here) but how does the album sound?

Dave Gahan has brought in Depeche Mode collaborators Christian Eigner and Andrew Philpott as co-writers. The result is a more electronic sound than before, reminding me of a Depeche Mode album but with weaker songs. Once again it’s the actual songs that make up the problem; the vocals are as strong and powerful as ever but when he doesn’t have Martin Gore’s quality songwriting to lean back on it doesn’t quite work.

This pretty much feels like Gahan has used his stuff that didn’t make it all the way to “Playing the Angel” and the result is certainly not bad, but slightly boring; especially in the parts where the electronic production is replaced by the guitar driven sound we recognize from his last record. By partly trying to make a new Depeche Mode album he makes it quite easy for himself.

The first single "Kingdom" is without a doubt the strongest track on the album, and it and "A Little Lie" are the songs that save this album. The others are just a bit anonymous and lack that special power that we are used to hear from Gahan’s vocals. “Hourglass” is well produced and sounds technically advanced. But it doesn’t do much for me. The songs lack feeling, heart and truth and I just don’t feel that special spark inside I get from hearing a really good song.

But at the same time I continue to listen, without skipping any songs so he’s definitely on to something. It’s a big step forward from “Paper Monsters” and I hope that we will see a third try from him. If he continues to evolve in the same speed as he has done, then we might have an amazing record to look forward to.