Sound — 7
Woozy synth-pop cinematics and arcane-infused electronica shapes Dave Gahan's second solo album Hourglass from Mute/Virgin Records. The enigmatic vocalist of Depeche Mode embarked on the solo route in 2003 with his debut album Paper Monsters. Like Monsters, Gahan's second installment Hourglass portrays a sordid life and a heavily burdened psyche with a man who still shows a preference to be garbed in black and immersed in a dark, brooding mood. Gahan produced and collaborated on the album with drummer Christian Eigner and guitarist Andrew Phillpot who was both members of Depeche Mode's touring band along with Tony Hoffer (Air, Beck, The Kooks, The Fratellis). The album rings with a starry-lit sonic of electro-pop skylines entangled in groggy industrial metal grating and lavishly shaped orchestral sonatas. The network of winding strings and guitar spins on Saw Something are chimerical as Gahan's vocals seep into the melodic coils. The robotic metal crunching on tracks like Deeper And Deeper and A Little Lie create harsh streaks along the flourishes of electro-pop crystals. The liquidity textures are atmospheric similarly to Moby with slow burning tempos shown in Insoluble, Miracles, and Down. The sequences of ebbing and progressing curls are meditative while the brash kicks of Use You display the voice of a tortured soul. The delicate Goth synth-pop channels of Endless and 21 Days are melodically tossed with Gahan's deep-throaty vocals which return to a Depeche Mode-ish jangle on the dance-pop psychedelic swirling of the album's first single Kingdom.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are one of a kind. They seem so personal to Gahan's inner turmoil like in the song Kingdom when Gahan inquiries: So in your infinite wisdom/ Show me how this life should be/ With all your love and glory, doesn't' mean that much to me/ If there's a kingdom beyond it all/ Is there a God who loves us all/ Do we believe in love at all/ I'm still pretending, I'm not a fool. Gahan's words and music have an emo-tronica complexion. The album's voice is steep in Goth-rock overtones while straddling emo and synth-pop stratums.
Overall Impression — 8
The album creates a subterfuge that sucks the listener into its heated coils. The music is original compared to others in the electronica emporium but not so original compared to Depeche Mode which signifies the impact that Gahan had on DM's music. The slithering electro-pop channels and emo-esque hues of the orchestral, goth, and industrial metal kinescopes are eerie and sarcophagus-like. It's like entering the inner sanctum of an altered-world that makes you see the flip side of pop/rock's cinema.