David Bowie
Hours


3.5
great

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
August 14th, 2011 | 25 replies | 10,582 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How the hours do improve…

David Bowie in the nineties was a startlingly eclectic figure, even by his own standards. Despite the differences in sound that marked each of his albums from the decade, one thing that tied them together was energy. Whether it was the spunky Black Tie White Noise, the brooding, industrial grind of Outside, or the 160bmp jungle excursions of Earthling; each had a common linking factor in the rapid, high-octane sounds they boasted. So as the decade drew to a close, thoughts about Bowie’s next album would surely draw conclusions that it’d be a lively, electronic record, in some form or another. As it turned out, 1999 dictated a different course to be followed than what was expected.

Hours… is an album of two halves, most certainly, but its most defining section is the first few songs which see Bowie (along with new song writing partner, Reeves Gabrels) taking a more acoustic, calmly introspective approach. The album’s first side is marked by mellow, singer/songwriter outings backed by lush synthetic orchestration and feathery acoustic guitars, making for a surprisingly refreshing, open and laid back experience. Hours… tackles the thoughts of an ageing man, looking backwards with an introspective eye and forwards with a subtly optimistic gaze; giving the set an uncharacteristically unguarded feel when coming from an artist famed for his paranoid, complex lyrics.

‘Thursday’s Child’, ‘Seven’ and ‘Survive’ are gorgeous, touching acoustic ballads, and are especially refreshing after the frenetic Earthling; whilst 'If I’m Dreaming My Life' takes a little longer to unfold, but captures the same pondered poignancy as its predecessors. Because it’s a mellowed-out, slow-burning type of record (or at least its first side is), Hours… benefits from repeated listens before its mature, sophisticated tones really sink in, to full effect.

The latter tracks take a heavier approach, and whilst they don’t sound as beautiful or lush as the earlier cuts, their riffs and cleverly integrated oriental touches work almost as effectively to seem worthwhile. Highlights on side two include the twitchy ‘What’s Really Happening?’, the gnarled, grinding ‘The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell’ and the album closer, ‘The Dreamers’. The tracks have one or two cluttering touches from time to time, but Tony Visconti’s producer role is still acted solidly throughout.

Hours… is a mellow, refreshing and consistent listen. It marks a new level of maturity in Bowie’s writing and carries subtleties that instil pleasantly reminiscent thoughts of earlier days in the chameleon’s lifespan, without ever sounding retro or out of date. It’s not the most thrilling of listens, but Hours’s subtle and oftentimes beautiful compositions, served as good indicators of the quality of what would come next in a career that spanned over five decades and took as many twists and turns as a theme park rollercoaster.



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user ratings (147)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


You, sir, are a reviewing machine. I'll have you know that because of you I went and got the whole David Bowie discography. I'm pumped and want to try it out ASAP.

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Wow, that's awesome, man, thanks a lot! You never heard Bowie before? Need some ideas of where to start?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


I tend to try out new bands/artists by starting from their newest work and working myself down...so I guess that would mean Reality in the case of Mr. Bowie. Something tells me that's not the ideal place to start, though.

(I haven't read Major Tom's take on the back-end of the catalogue so I don't have the benefit of that haha ;))

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's up to you of course, but the Bowie discog is a difficult one to delve into. Imo, the best place to start is with either of these classics:

- Hunky Dory (1971)
- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
- Low (1977)

Each of the above are vastly different, but all are iconic and astoundingly good. They'll give you a taste of what to come.

After those three check out the rest of his 70s material - it's his finest work. After the 70s masterpieces have been properly appreciated, check out the rest - the 2 60s albums; his 80 stuff (1 great album 1 good album, and 2 crappy ones), then his 90s and 00s work.

But yeah, just my opinion. Hope it helped ; )

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



5611 Comments


I definitely will gradually purchace his 70's work...

Probably won't bother with the rest...

Digging: Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



6248 Comments


Irving, start with Ziggy ; )

Nice review, Major Tom! : )

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Cheers. Yeah, everyone needs his 70s work at a bare minimum - the rest is just for fans, but his 70s work is essential for fans of music in general.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


Hmmm, maybe I'll open with Ziggy. Or Space Oddity (the title track of which is, up to very recently, was the only Bowie song I had ever heard in full - shame I know).

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'd pick Ziggy out of those two dude - Space Oddity's title-track is not a good indicator of what the rest sounds like - its a good album but nowhere near Ziggy.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



6248 Comments


Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy!!

And then Station to Station ;)

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


Right on. Looks like it'll be Ziggy then. I'll be sure to let you know how my Bowie experience goes - it's about time I listened to more from the man!

Anyone else ever marvel at how astoundingly large the world's musical database is? How can anyone ever hope to cover + truly appreciate it all?! =S

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



6248 Comments


You can't... I've given up and just listen to whatever passes by me.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


I've given up and just listen to whatever passes by me.

Word. Joining this site honestly makes the battle seem that much more futile too. Whenever I think I've done well for myself in terms of musical education the Staff, Contribs, and a good chunk of the userbase start talking about entire new albums/discographies that only serve to remind me how little I know lol.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



6248 Comments


I take pride in the fact that my direct neighbourhood thinks I'm the absolute expert on all music :p (keeping up appearances and stuff :p )

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2011



7011 Comments


So does mine! But if only they knew, eh? ;p

iFghtffyrdmns
August 14th 2011



7047 Comments


I wanna say you've got the most reviews whilst maintaining a 100% approval rating on Sputnik. For that, awesome job haha.
Though I probably shouldn't have said anything cause that probably jinxed it.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks dude. Hopefully it stays that way.

iFghtffyrdmns
August 14th 2011



7047 Comments


definitely, it'd be awesome to see 100 @ 100%.
You're a great writer though, you deserve it and all, whether or not I give two shits or no shits about David Bowie haha

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



6248 Comments


whether or not I give two shits or no shits about David Bowie

Um....

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Cheers iFghtffyrdmns, although i do have to quote clercqie on the Bowie bit!! Umm...[2]




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