David Bowie

Virgin, 1997

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


David Bowie’s twentieth studio album, 1997’s Earthling, lacked the grandiosity of its predecessors, Black Tie, White Noise, and Outside. With a one-of-a-kind dance-jazz concept on the brilliant Black Tie and a murder-mystery storyline holding the songs together on the dark Outside, both these records seemed interesting projects on paper. Earthling, in comparison, is just a record with nothing fancy to offer, at least at the outset.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The deceptive Earthling might not stand out as a classic in Bowie’s vast catalog, but it is a hidden gem in that it is not actually as bad as it might appear to be. This album, like 1995’s Outside, has a moody, electronic-laced sound, but this time in much bigger and menacing proportions. Mixing hard-hitting Electronica music with fast-paced, jungle-like drum and beat arrangements on this record, Bowie seems to capitalize on the post-grunge techno-industrial sound of the late ‘90s.

Even though Electronica might not seem like Bowie’s forte, he doesn’t appear a wee bit awkward on the album and pulls it off like a champ for the most part. Earthling is not an inspiring record, but it is a very exciting one. With just nine songs (and running 49 minutes long) this album has enough beats, muscle, and thrills to keep it energetic, and it’s not too long that it starts getting repetitive.

The production on this release is crisp and meaty, and Bowie sounds confident and full of beans in the face of the barrage of futuristic guitar sounds, aggressive beats, and frequent tempo changes. The tracks might be longer than average, but they have a simple structure, which makes the record pretty uncomplicated and accessible.

Earthling has its share of less than mediocre songs that do stand out not so gloriously, like “Law (Earthling’s On Fire)” and “Seven Years In Tibet.” But then there are cuts like “Dead Man Walking,” “The Last Thing You Should Do,” and “Little Wonder” that render this a satisfyingly refreshing record.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A



© 2008 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin, and is used for informational purposes only.