It has proven difficult for some artists (no names mentioned) to survive without Steven Wilson. This is quite understandable. Yet, here we find Tim Bowness releasing his second solo album in as many years, and the style and content are very much his own. In 2014, Bowness released “Abandoned Dancehall Dreams”, a wonderful album full of retro vibe and catchy beats. In 2015, Bowness is back with “Stupid Things That Mean the World”, an album that obviously shares similar styles to the previous album, but honestly has its own identity.
Tim has friends in high places, it seems, as members of King Crimson, No-man, Porcupine Tree, Van Der Graaf Generator, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and other groups have come together to help Tim make his album. Isn’t the prog community great?
“Stupid Things”, besides having a really long title, seems to continue Bowness’ penchant for exploring childhood fantasies and concerns. While “Abandoned Dancehall Dreams” spoke more to the lost dreams we all have inside us, “Stupid Things” reaches us at our most vulnerable: at the things that mean the most to us, but which really don’t matter at all. Bowness hits us where it counts, pointing to our pastimes, entertainment, teenaged expectations of life, frivolous emotions, and silly escapes. We’re human, after all, and we have the strangest ways of burying our stresses, insecurities, or sadness. It’s all about drama, isn’t it? Not quite. Tim also celebrates the small things, the wonderful curiosities, and the beautiful simplicity of what humans love so much.
Anyways, the album is appropriate in sound. Heavy beats, ambient and drifting melodies, and a pop sensibility that is often missing from progressive music all come together perfectly. Wandering moments drift aimlessly into tight instrumentals and grooves (Press Reset) Tim’s vocals are delicate and vulnerable, full of feeling, as if he knows exactly what he’s talking about here. Tim explores the unique nature of humanity through beautiful keys set against spacey atmospheres that have just a slight edge of guitar, but when it’s time to rock, Tim gives it to us in spades, too.
I have to be honest. I was afraid that two albums in two years was going to be quantity over quality, but I find that I might like “Stupid Things” even better than “Abandoned Dancehall Dreams”. It has more direction, better instrumentals, and just something about it that brings me closer. I love simple melodies of “Sing to Me”, the pop of the title track, the groove of “Press Reset”, the cliffhanging classical influence on “Everything But You”, and the awesome final track “At the End of the Holiday”. There is so much variety and sheer beauty on this album that I can’t imagine anyone missing this easy-listening album. Do yourself a favor.