Sound — 8
Space Oddity is David Bowie's second album, released two years after his obscure self-titled chamber-pop debut. Known especially for the single of the same name, Space Oddity's sound differs greatly from that of the zoned-out space rock of it's title track. While the single "Space Oddity" features drugged-out vocal harmonies, organs, wandering guitar solos, and space-age sound effects, the remainder of the tracks are very simple, straightforward folk-rock with a hint of hippie psychadelia. Most songs are structured fairly simply. Accompanied by the gentle psychadelic swooning of the backing band, Bowie's 12-string acoustic takes center stage as he crafts an album's worth of essential 60's songs. The title track itself is a tremendous leap forward, exploring realms of textures and sound effects that would not be touched again for years. The rest of the album is simply very well composed folk-rock. Most of the songs sound fairly similar, but the gentle acoustic guitar-driven sound is a timeless one.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrics have always been David Bowie's strong point; whether he's recounting the otherworldly journey of an astronaut or lamenting about the apocalypse, a quirky sort of wiseness and introspection can always be expected from him. Space Oddity finds him at his very least eccentric, often touching upon fairly lighthearted but serious subject matter. Over the course of the album, his literate songwriting and somewhat deadpan vocal style recall Leonard Cohen during his younger days. Bowie's voice and lyrics suit the music perfectly, placing this album within the general folk umbrella rather than the hard-rock tag that would later apply to his sound.
Overall Impression — 10
Not counting the almost completely unheard-of chamber-pop debut, this is undoubtedly one of Bowie's least groundbreaking albums. The title track itself, of course, is an impressive venture into Barrett-era Pink Floyd space-rock rambling in which Bowie shows a knack for combining quirkiness and dissonance with melody and introspection. The rest of the tracks are gorgeously crafted pop songs with unquestionable folk overtones. "Letter To Hermione" stands out as the saddest song on the album, a reading of a letter to a past lover. "(Don't Sit Down)", on the other hand is a strange and trippy fourty-second track on which Bowie repeats the words "don't sit down" before cursting into forced laughter. Combined with the Cohen-esque "Cygnet Committee" and "Memory Of A Free Festival", these songs represent the very core of the music that Bowie would make for the decade to come: oftentimes of serious intent, but hinting at the experimental and leaning towards the eccentric and even nonsensical. On Space Oddity, he creates a concise, very listenable collection of songs which fit very well together, with the obvious exception of the title track. This is a landmark album in 60's rock, deserving mention alongside albums such as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Are You Experienced".