Teenage Dreams and Wistful Memories
In his solo album Stupid Things that Mean the World, Tim Bowness combines his mellow voice with some creative instrument combinations to produce an album that appears, at some points, to tell a story of failed romance, and at others, to reassure. In several instances, his message appears to aim directly at a youthful audience, addressing some of the doubts and insecurities of adolescence. Meanwhile, there are electronic elements in his music reminiscent of ‘80s love songs, but there are also numerous innovative additions to keep the music unique.
One example of Bowness’s message being directed towards the youth is the opening track, “Great Electric Teenage Dream.” Indeed, there are electro elements of the song, and allusions to technology in the lyrics highlight its dominant presence in the lives of today’s teenagers. Then, the album shifts towards a series of slower songs fraught with minor chords. For instance, one of the prettiest tracks of the album is “Sing to Me.” It blends melancholy, romance and nostalgia, with the chorus uttering, “‘Sing to me, she said; we were dreamers on the sidelines.”
There is sadness in the reflective nature of the song, but the instrumentation eventually raises the tone to one of hope. Bowness also incorporates a variety of instruments, such as violin, but then at the conclusion, some powerfully soulful guitar work enters the song, making an uplifting addition to the closing measures. Along similar emotional lines, the next song, “Where You’ve Always Been” touches the heartstrings with diverse instruments, most notably tinkling piano mixed with gentle guitar picking.
The mood of the album shifts again with title track, “Stupid Things that Mean the World.” This quirky song seems to dwell on adolescent memories revisited from a point of greater wisdom. This is a tone that characterizes several other tracks, becoming a recurring theme on the album. Another example is “Know that You Are Loved,” which has consoling lyrics, perhaps reassuring a younger generation that everything will work out, despite the people who say, “You’ll fail,” and despite the “Truculent dinners, fraught family affairs.”
As a whole, the album represents Bowness’s eclectic taste in music. From the strongly electronic opening of the album with “Great Electric Teenage Dream,” to the heavy dose of synthesizer in “Everything You’re Not,” to the orchestral vibe of “At the End of the Holiday,” Bowness keeps his music varied and interesting. Many of his lyrics, combined with simple instrumentation, produce a moving, emotional aura to the tracks. Bowness’s unique voice and variety of musical elements make Stupid Things that Mean the World an enticing album.