Jumping on the post-grunge industrial bandwagon with Outside didn't successfully rejuvenate David Bowie's credibility or sales, so he switched his allegiance to techno and jungle for the follow-up, Earthling. While jungle is a more appropriate fit than industrial, the resulting music is nearly as awkward. Though he often gets the sound of jungle right, the record frequently sounds as if the beats were simply grafted on top of pre-existing songs. Never are the songs broken open by a new form; they are fairly conventional Bowie songs with fancy production. Fortunately, Bowie sounds rejuvenated by this new form, and songs like "Little Wonder" and "Seven Years in Tibet" are far stronger than the bulk of Outside. Still, the record falls short of its goals, and it doesn't offer enough intrigue or innovations to make Earthling anything more than an admirable effort.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine