In 1999, David Bowie released the album ‘Hours…’ and it enjoyed mixed reviews, some critics calling it a masterpiece, others a lesser work from the music icon.
Is it one of Bowie’s best?
Let’s take a listen.
The first track on the album is also the first single to be released from it. “Thursday’s Child” has a pensive, moody vibe to it with a very 90’s beat underneath it all and choir-style backing vocals. It’s a song that’s both upbeat and downbeat somehow making it an intriguing listen, even if it’s not that catchy. It is followed by “Something In The Air”, an initially slower track which builds up confidently to a rockier and, in fact, very cool bridge and chorus. Great guitar work throughout this one, I should point out.
“Survive” is next and it’s a bit like a mix of the first two songs in that it’s both nostalgic and hopeful but also has an effective build up and a terrific guitar sound. It’s an atmospheric tune which aims to get a particular feeling, mood across and it does that perfectly. It’s the third single to be released from the album and its video sees a long-haired Bowie float around a kitchen.
As you do.
The following song is “If I’m Dreaming My Life” and Bowie goes down low vocally for this one. It’s a moody, kickass track which a growing and shrinking rhythm, poetic lyrics, a fab melody and a fantastic chorus. One of the best tracks on the album, definitely. Why this song wasn’t a single I’ll never know.
Speaking of singles, “Seven” was the last song to be released as one from ‘Hours…’. Written by both Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, it’s a beautiful, mostly acoustic track with a perfect build-up, an irresistible melody, a catchy hook and, again, a terrific guitar. My personal favourite on the album. Screeching guitars open the more retro “What’s Really Happening?”, a killer rock tune that feels like a classic from the very first note. Again, this is a single if I ever heard one.
The album picks up even more with really fun single “The Pretty Things Are going To Hell”, another rockier track with heavier guitars and a chorus designed for maximum live effect. This is probably the closest you’ll hear David Bowie get to doing metal so it’s pretty awesome, as you can imagine. Expect more excellent work from guitarist/co-writer Reeves Gabrels.
The next track is “New Angels Of Promise” and it’s another cracking, very Bowie tune with a cool chorus, some simply brilliant vocal work and a grungy, punky vibe throughout. This feels more like an early 90’s/late 80’s effort than a song recorded in 1999 and that’s a good thing for sure. “Brilliant Adventure” is more of a transitional ambient track and it has a very Eastern, Middle Eastern even, feel. It’s short but very pretty.
Finally, we have “The Dreamers”, which opens with short booms, then gives way to a faster rhythm and then a more disjointed, dancier one. It’s a retro-sounding, experimental track which tries a whole bunch of different things, all of which somehow work. It’s typical Bowie throwing something unpredictable at you to end the album on a high, creative note.
It’s surprising that critics were not all that emphatic about ‘Hours…’ as it’s easily one of David Bowie’s most underrated efforts. For such a short album, you’ve got a lot of great, memorable stuff in there. From the more atmospheric, slower tracks to the rockier ones, it’s pretty much all good: the singles prove themselves to be worthy and even the non-singles sound like they could have enjoyed a comfortable release of their own.
‘Hours…’ is an under-appreciated gem from Mr Bowie and it gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us.