Dave Gahan | Hourglass/Hourglass Remixes (Virgin Mute)

gahan-hourglass.jpgThe album’s full of electronic beats (some of them harder than others), Gahan’s strong and often manipulated vocals, and darkly sexual lyrics.







Either Depeche Mode are doing something right or I’ve got it backwards. For a band that’s been putting out music for well over 25 years, they’re still putting out some of the most addictive and challenging albums of their career. I frequently pull up newer Depeche Mode on my iPod (1995 or beyond) and am constantly amazed at how good it is. Weren’t bands of that age supposed to be focusing on the greatest hits of yesteryear?

Along those same lines, Depeche Mode frontman (but not its primary songwriter) Dave Gahan has released his second solo effort, Hourglass, and it’s a keeper. The album’s full of electronic beats (some of them harder than others), Gahan’s strong and often manipulated vocals, and darkly sexual lyrics—and, for the most part, it works.

Gahan’s full-throated and breathy voice plays over a dark, electronic-based beat on disc opener "Saw Something" as he reveals, "I saw something in your eyes/ …I wanted it for myself." "Kingdom" keeps the black lights on the dance floor as Gahan sings, "I have that desperate feeling/ and trouble is where I’m going to be." A near wall of noise backs his vocals and a steady beat.

Heavy electroclash urges verging on industrial permeate "Deeper and Deeper"; it’s not quite your typical Depeche Mode fare, yet it’s not a far stretch from what we’ve come to expect from their later material. Lyrically, this one paints another rough picture; "I’m gonna have you/ when I want you/ I’m gonna take you/ that’s what I like," intones Gahan. "21 Days" slows things down a bit yet keeps the mood foreboding as Gahan sings of "building a tower of fear by the river."

Following the midpoint meltdown of "Miracles," an ethereal track with a long instrumental intro that never quite hits its mark, Gahan’s back to the underlying theme of the album with "Use You." With beats that sound more like the lash of a whip, the song delves into a near-chant on its refrain. An almost experimental electronic sound begins "Insoluble," another slower number; truthfully, the album’s at its most insinuatingly captivating when it’s hard hitting and high energy.

"Endless" begins with the sound of the tide; though this one’s also laid back, Gahan’s aching vocals are perfect over the gentle keys and steady drone. The refrain of "A Little Lie" is glorious and shimmering, making it an instant keeper. Closing the disc is "Down"—you guessed it, another drugged out track that never quite gets off the ground.

Though it’s definitely stronger in its first, more hard-hitting half, Hourglass is a more than respectable solo offering from the voice of Depeche Mode. B

As a recently released companion piece, Hourglass Remixes is just as it sounds: club remixes of songs from the album by such DJs as The Juan Maclean, Kap10kurt, T. Raumschmiere and Digitalism. Though four versions of "Deeper and Deeper" get a bit tiresome, each one is sufficiently different enough—and different tempoed—to merit inclusion here. Two versions of "Saw Something" (the one by Skreamix is especially nice) and three of "Kingdom" (my favorite: Digitalism’s) are joined by a remix of "Use You" and a version of "Love Will Leave," a bonus (if somewhat tedious) non-album track. C+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Newer Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, older Underworld

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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