If you love Depeche Mode, give this a try.
Following on from his debut solo release "Paper Monsters", David Gahan returns with his fourth album since 2001's "Exciter." Generally, by the time people get to their forties, they slow down, jettison any form of artistic endeavour, make sucky records through habit, addicted to the musical treadmill of occasional releases and long holidays. Gahan meanwhile, now he has kicked the drugs, is fast discovering his muse and putting out stuff with the frequency of a new start.
Using the same songwriting team of Gahan (with Andrew Philpott and Mode drummer Christian Eigner) that birthed some of the last Mode album, "Hourglass" is just like Depeche Mode... but different. Overall, it's a darker, moodier experience than a Mode album, Mode Noir, if you like. But it's still obviously following on from the same tradition of Gahan's previous work.
Just like Bananarama, you can take the man out of Depeche Mode, but not the Mode out of the man. Despite having no songwriting input for the first 25 years of Mode's career, Gahan proves that it's not just the voice he gave the band but some kind of mysterious spirit. And the spirit is here in abundance. Lead single "Kingdom" is by no means the best thing on here : "Deeper and Deeper" is a dense, thrilling cataclysm of sound, abetted by a wall of dirty guitars and Gahan's own haunted vocals. "Endless" is equally pounding, with a relentless rhythm adding an air of menace to the proceedings. But ultimately it all sounds like Depeche Mode, to a certain extent. Just a darker, more introspective version of the band, shorn of the ambitions to write enormous hits of pain and suffering. The existant feel of Gahan's debut (and the subsequent commercially viable singles) seem perhaps a little absent here - there's nothing as immediate or as catchy as "Enjoy The Silence" or even "Dirty Sticky Floors" on this - but that's not to say there should be.
"Hourglass" is an accomplished sophomore release that sees Gahan further cementing his artistic vision - and, at some quarter century (and 13 albums) into his expedition, it's a fine addition to the canon. It won't win any new fans to either Gahan (or his parent band), but is another solid piece of work that bodes well for the future. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Gahan has refused to follow the easy and lazy path of nostalgic uninvention, the tired cash-motivated reformation, and the boring, artistically redundant in favour of this : something that is, at least, artistically true and exploring new areas. If you love Depeche Mode, give this a try.