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David Bowie - Hours... CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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3.45 | 122 ratings

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3 stars It's almost as if Bowie accidentally stumbled on a portrait of himself in the attic that had been getting older and older. This is almost the exact opposite album of Earthling: while that had horrific arrangements but mostly had interesting songs, this one has relatively tasteful arrangements but rather uninspiring songs. This is as close as Bowie ever came to making a full-fledged adult contemporary album, and while it's nice that he relies more on mellow guitars (though the second half has songs with a lot of noisy Gabrels work) than gloppy synths (there are synths, but they don't get shoved in the listener's face), that's not really enough to thrill me. Perhaps if I were more of a Bowie fan, I'd be more apt to consider this album a sign of maturity and of an artist aging gracefully, much like I do with Strange Times by The Moody Blues (which also came out in 1999), but as is, I find the album pleasant but kinda boring.

The first half is a bit of a slog to get through. Admittedly, it does have two fairly marvelous mellow ballads in "Thursday's Child" and "Seven." "Thursday's Child" immediately makes it clear that this is going to be one hell of a mellow album, and David sounds creakier and older than ever before, but the melody is just lovely. "Seven" is even better, taking a lovely acoustic-based melody with a great chorus and dripping little bits of lovely guitar on the sound like chocolate syrup on a sundae. "Survive" is a decent enough song with more pleasant work from Gabrels, but the vocal part isn't written or sung well enough to quite make it what it probably could be. "Something in the Air" and "If I'm Dreaming My Life," then, are just way too long for how much they feel like mildly above average Phil Collins songs ("Dreaming" has some artsier aspects, but the song just ends up as a weird combination of boring and messy).

The second half has a little more diversity, throwing in some decent rockers and a weird Easterny instrumental ("Brilliant Adventure"), but it's still no great shakes. Both "What's Really Happening" and "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell" have brief moments that make me think momentarily they might be minor classics, but they both feel a little too underdeveloped for me to love them (I still like them). "New Angels of Promise," the other rocker, is a little too messy for my tastes; the synths, guitars and vocals crash into each other but don't mesh at all. And finally, "The Dreamers" is rather underwhelming for an album closing anthem. It's not bad, and Bowie doesn't sound as old as he often does on the rest of the album, but he's definintely done better closers.

Again, it's not a bad album, but I don't see why I'd ever want to listen to it straight through again. Heck, Reeves Gabrels found it so boring that it prompted him to quit working with Bowie for good.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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