When originally released, we had the usual hyperbole that's followed Bowie around throughout the years, things like 'this is the best album since ...' or 'this is a return to the sound of ...'. Such claims can be taken with a pinch of salt. The sound of Hours
resembles mid-to-late 1980's Bowie more than it resembles Hunky Dory
or Scary Monsters
- it's a return to mediocrity.
Bowie has ditched all the sonic experimentation that characterised his two previous albums. Fair enough, he can do that, but he also manages a drop in the song-writing department too, and his vocals sound fairly strained, they sound old. That may seem a harsh comment, but fast-forwarding to 2003/2004, Bowie actually sounded a lot younger then than he does here on this 1999 release.
My major problem isn't with the writing or the way Bowie is actually singing the songs though. I dislike the way the record sounds, the way the music has been put together. It's all far too safe. When Bowie rocks out a little more during parts of Side Two, the record actually fails even more than the AOR-styled tracks on the first side, which is a little strange but only underlines that something here is wrong. It's difficult to put a finger on it.
I'll start by comparing "Thursday's Child" to "Buddha of Surburbia" (the single not the album). For a lead single, "Thursday's Child" is fairly tame, coming across more as a second or third single. OK, so Bowie isn't about singles anymore - apparently - still, the Bowie of "Suburbia" was putting across dynamic, powerful vocals with intriguing lyrics.
Here he's singing well enough, but the lyrics aren't particularly captivating or artistic, they're just simple pop lyrics. Not necessarily a bad thing, I'm just using this comparison to highlight that for a lead single, "Thursdays Child" isn't what it should be. That it also it kicks off the entire album is also possibly a wrong/weak move.
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews