I’m innately suspicious of white singers with dreadlocks (though Perry Farrell was weird enough to pull it off) as most seem to be either pop tossers or trustafarians. Given these 'biases', Dutch painter/sculptor Francis Bowie’s new self-titled EP came as a pleasant surprise. The four tracks on this new EP (14 minutes) sounds like some of the more intelligent (pre-MTV) new wave/synth-pop that came out of the UK in the early 80’s.
Bowie proclaims himself the founder of the Intelligent Pop Music genre of music and stated that “IPM is an attempt to put some quality, dignity and honor back into popular music.” While that is a fairly lofty goal - this isn’t the autotune nonsense that seems to be all over the radio. Bowie (predominately) sings with a rich baritone that is reminiscent of Peter Murphy and his music ranges between Deep-era Peter Murphy and Bronski Beat. The music is very accessible and catchy but there is a dark edge to all of the songs.
Most of the song lyrics are about love – and Bowie explores both the good and the bad. “Endlessly” has a mellow beat that is powered by low-key “new wave” synthesizers which leaves Bowie’s vocals to ably drive the song. “Wasted Time” follows in the same vein but adds strings and horns to the instrumentation. Bowie picks up the pace for the techno-dance number "Sunny Day" and this number shows the versatility of Bowie's vocals as he sings in almost a falsetto. Shifting styles yet again, the last number, "Silly and Crazy", is a gutter-glam industrial number.
While this new EP doesn't break any new ground, Bowie does an excellent job of mining a variety of sounds from the original post-punk era and his chameleon-like ability to jump between different aspects of the genre with ease may put him on par with the other Bowie given time.