The progressive music community is funny. Some artists put out albums every 5 years, while others seem to have something every single year. While COVID-19 might be a reason for this, Tim Bowness has a new album for us only a year and a half after his previous offering. “Late Night Laments” released on August 28th, and I think it is a step up from his 2019 album.
Tim comes to us from the UK and is known elsewhere as part of the duo that forms No-Man. I have something of a love-hate relationship with his music, though. Most of his albums sound very much the same, though some simply have better writing or maybe some twists thrown in for good measure. His 2019 album “Flowers at the Scene” might have been the worst of his career, in my opinion, and so I wasn’t quite ready for more music from him.
Tim’s solo music is typically slow-burning, atmospheric, Romantic, and illustrious in tone. Many of the songs are bolstered by strong lyrics about melancholy, loss, love, emotions, and the like. With a musical style of this sort, it is easy to fall into a rut (I would point to The Pineapple Thief as an example of this). “Late Night Laments” sees Tim keeping his style, though adding more guitar solos, slightly more upbeat songs, and even xylophone to keep things a bit fresher than I expected. This album has less electronica than his past few, too, but does have more acoustic and electric guitar.
I’ve been listening to this album for a couple months now. It really is one of those records that has more to offer each time you hear it. There are subtle accents and melodies that only reveal themselves after a few listens. I’m not entirely sure how deep that well of treasures goes, but I do still enjoy it after a couple months, so that’s saying something.
Much like his past albums, I would again say that the first few tracks are the best ones on the album. I’m not sure if this tendency is simply because Tim puts his best songs first, or if it is because my mind tires of the glum sounds and so I enjoy later tracks less. Who knows?
The songs I enjoy the most are “Northern Rain”, a wonderful aurora borealis of subtle colors, darkness, and melancholy; and also “Darkline”, probably the best song on the album. I really like this track for having a hint of quirk to it, but also because the chorus is strong and the reserved electric guitars are beautiful.
Others songs are almost as good, though. “The Hitman Who Missed” is an interesting song with lush keys and xylophone (either real or synthetic). “The Last Getaway” has a pleasant ticking beat to it, and “Hidden Life” has a nice yet subtle climax that I like. The album overall feels melancholy, as it is meant to, but that means many of the songs sound similar. It also means that nothing much happens during some of the songs, as it is more about atmosphere than anything else.
One thing I noted, though, is that the promo version didn’t come with the bonus tracks. I noticed on Spotify that there are five bonus tracks, and they are actually more interesting than most of the tracks on the album proper. Songs like “Beyond the Firing Line” and “Cheerleader for the Damned” have a bit more spirit and fire in them. I have no idea why these are separated from the rest of the album, as I feel they could have added a passion or vigor to it.
Overall, if you like Tim Bowness solo albums, you will probably like this one, too. It is certainly not his best, but it is rock solid and enjoyable. If you are getting bored of his sound, you will probably be bored with this album, too. Tim isn’t going to win more fans with this one, but fans who already love him will be satisfied.
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