Dave Gahan sounds as goth-rock and new-romantics-with-a-spell-of-shoegaze
as deeply as he ever did when he fronted Depeche Mode. The
underlying melodic layers in Gahan's songs on his second solo album
Hourglass have smooth, clean, fluid lines that are stacked
by buzz-saw metal stylistics and Brit-punk laden electronica. There
are shots of trip-hop which synergize an opiate state and arcadian
conditioning that preens of downy, ambient flourishes. Gahan's vocals
have always been able to undress the listener with their sultry vocal
stroking and then counter this velvety touch with churlish barbing
that is simpatico with the melodic creases.
Gahan continues to flex his vocal prowess on Hourglass which
he produced and collaborated on with Tony Hoffer (Air,
The Kooks, The Fratellis). He is joined by Christian
Eigner (drums) and Andrew Philpot (guitar) who were both
members of Depeche Mode's touring band. Songs like "Endless"
and "Insoluble" have a nostalgic electro-pop flutter that
is reminiscent of Depeche Mode. Although this shows that the apple
does not fall far from the tree, Gahan's songs are less artsy and
more emo-throttled than Depeche Mode's. The shoegaze tendencies in
the synth patterns for "Kingdom" create moving pictures
anchored by heavily chained beats with sumptuous emo-driven sonic
furls. The chainsaw buzzing on "Deeper And Deeper" cinch
the piece with moments of stressed notes as Gahan's vocals dig in
sharply while thronged by roguish Brit-punk electronica.
The ball and chain syncopation of "21 Days" is flanked
by angular trip-hop sequences which relinquish to a soft-pop ambient
simmer on "Miracles," "Down," and "Saw Something."
Gahan's lyrical themes are introspective while hovering above the
emotions being displayed in the lyrics like in "Saw Something"
when he intones, "I sit and I wait and I stare/ Still wishing
for a divine intervention to lift me from my chair." The lyrics
seek answers as the music produces a swirling sieve of synth-textured
atmospherics around Gahan's breathy vocal rises and falls. The electro-pop
streaks turn hard and biting on tracks like "Use You" and
"A Little Lie" impressing a goth rock chill through the
wavy melodic tissues. Gahan fuses a number of elements into his music
while being steadfast to the inflaming synth-pop chimes of this youth.
Hourglass follows Gahan's debut album Paper Monsters
from 2003, administering a floating feel synonymous with Goldfrapp
while chiseling macabre metal-tinged goth rock tones. The songs show
factions of '80s new romantics with modern formations that resound
like Radiohead tiered by Emigrate. It is music that
doesn't feel dated but shows roots in the past backed by Gahan's refined
handling of his shimmery vocal keys.
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