Am I the only one who doesn’t like his last three albums?
I’m really sad and sorry to have to bring this up but I’m just going to say it. I don’t like his last three albums… Hours, Heathen and Reality. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect the man and have the utmost admiration for his work and what he’s done in his career. I consider myself to be a real fan…I can never stop loving what he does and who he is, even if he carried on making music I don’t like for the rest of his days. But I just feel the need to tell other fans that I can’t get into his latest offerings. Lord knows I’ve tried and I keep telling myself that the albums are good like all the reviews say…I mean they were all reasonably acclaimed…so they must be good right? I listened to them and immediately I realised there was not one single track that stirred me. There was not one track that filled me with passion, angst, sadness, wonder…anything. I felt rather numb. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any tracks I liked or thought were good enough to put on my mixed tapes, (MP3’s based CD’s I should say). No there are tracks that I could sing to and I found myself liking the melody nay tune. Like S….Oh …now here is a perfect example…I just sat here at my PC trying to remember the track name. I am a fan god damnit! It’s really hard to say these things. “Seven”, that’s it! I liked that one…I could sing along to that I guess. The other songs were just o.k. On Heathen I liked “Cactus” and if it weren’t so long, “I Took A Trip On A Gemini SpaceCraft”…but they’re not even his! What is that saying for crying out loud?! From Reality I like “Never Get Old” and I think possibly “New Killer Star”…I say I think, because I can’t really remember them very well. You see that’s the problem. His songs from the last three albums just don’t stand out at all. There’s nothing about them that makes me really feel anything. They don’t even make me feel angry. They are just bland albums. Even his crap albums weren’t bland. Now I know that if someone else other than David Bowie had released the sort of work he has over the last 9 years, then they would be thought of as a well respected cult artist I suppose. But I want more God damnit! Where are those fantastic Bowie histrionics…those vocals that soar and change over albums or songs? “Look Back In Anger”, “It’s No Game pt 1”, “Young Americans”, “Heroes”, “Joe The Lion”….so many more. So many songs that really stirred me, just his vocals…the way he projected his feelings with his voice. Now it’s all crooning, dulcet, low same ole, same ole type singing. He sings like he’s old. O.k. maybe he is older…but I was hoping that if anyone could transcend the ageist barrier within Pop music it would be Bowie. Maybe he actually can’t sing that way anymore? Then there’s the actual melodies….I don’t mean tunes…I mean real beautiful melodies that capture people who aren’t even fans. His music behind the voice and lyrics has always been interesting and a lot of it has been catchy and those are the ones that give him hits. Some of it has been weird and possibly not very radio friendly, but still interesting and usually always with a good riff or two. I don’t know much about the technicalities of music so I feel like I can’t really express what I’m trying to say here. I just haven’t heard any real soaring melodies…music that sweeps me away, like the string arrangements on Hunky Dory or the drumming on Always Crashing in the Same Car. Why doesn’t he use strings anymore or more piano based songs? Not just piano in the song but a song driven by it. Well, I know people will be reading this and saying what on earth is that person talking about? You may be thinking that his latest offerings have great melodies ….but I know some people will agree with me. There’s no oomph.
As for his lyric writing…well I’ll be honest I never really listen to songs because of what they’re saying. The music gets me first then the voice. But these last albums…actually I really can’t remember any lyrics. I don’t mind songs sung in the first person…I suppose the majority of songs are sung in the first person….but he seems to have completely lost the ability to write in the second person. Where are the characters, be it semi fictional or what? Why does he always right about himself? Where has his great skill at telling stories gone, the narrative. It doesn’t have to be fictional…but lets face it…there is a distinct lack of fictional content. Does he think it’s immature or something? Maybe he did actually write narrative in his last three albums but because the music and vocal style was bland, I failed to pick up on the lyrics. I don’t remember lyrics unless the rest of the song is memorable too. I think there are a few key things that have changed in Bowie’s writing style both musically and lyrically that has just made his last three albums boring;
1. Lack of sweeping or rhythmically catchy melodies.
2. No expressive vocals. No using his voice as an instrument to convey the feelings in the words. The same vocal delivery, just singing.
3. Lack of narrative and second person writing. No Characters fictional or otherwise.
4. No passion.
I know that I haven’t convincingly given evidence as to why his last three albums are boring…but this wasn’t meant to be a thesis, just a nagging feeling I’ve had. I desperately want to like his Hours, Heathen and Reality….but I just don’t.