Album Review: With ‘The Next Day’, David Bowie returns with his best album since 1997’s ‘Earthling’.
‘The Next Day’s‘ sound reflects its album cover, which replicates the cover from Bowie’s album ‘Heroes‘, but removing his face. In other words, Bowie is revisiting past glories, but putting a new spin on them. He’s aided in this task by long-time producer Tony Visconti, who helmed ‘Heroes’ as well as other landmark Bowie albums.
Unlike past efforts which often have a uniform scope with variations thereof, ‘The Next Day‘ revisits sounds from all of Bowie’s sonic past; It’s a greatest hits album from an alternate universe.
The album kicks off with the title track which feels like a mashup of ‘Scary Monsters‘ and ‘Cat People‘; It’s propulsive and dynamic, Bowie’s confronting his own mortality , and the chorus throws down the gauntlet; “Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree!”
It is this theme that’s reflected throughout the album such as the slow building ‘Love Is Lost‘: “say goodby to the thrills of life…wave goodby to a life without pain…say hello you’re a beautiful death.” It’s clear that aging and surviving a heart attack has made his own mortality his muse.
Songs like new single ‘The Stars (are Out Tonight)” and ‘Dancing Out in Space‘ take a cue from Bowie’s 80’s new-wave era ; suave pop-rock with a snapping bite.
The single ‘Where Are We Now‘, remains a highlight; One of Bowie’s best ballads, it’s languid bliss, punctuated by an anthemic, chiming Edge-like guitar solo from veteran Bowie collaborator Earl Slick.
‘Valentine’s Day‘ has the catchiest hook of the album, hearkening back to Ziggy Stardust with its Mick Ronson style guitar-work.
Like most Bowie album’s it has its patience testing moments of atonal, rhythmic weirdness, and that’s “If You Can See Me“. It’s the most polarizing track here.
“I’d Rather Be High” is groovy psychedelia, with a trippy guitar riff that suggests Bowie’s woefully underrated noise-rock group Tin Machine,
‘Boss Of Me‘ is another 80’s horn stomping rocker, which might be an homage to his wife Iman, as he marvels at how she entangled him into domesticity: “who’d have ever thought of it, who’d have ever dreamed…how a small town girl like you, could be the boss of me.” And speaking of Iman, she may have spilled the beans on a possible tour?
The album winds down with 2 ballads: “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” is another glam rock tune in the vein of ‘5 Years‘ and ‘Rock’N’Roll Suicide.”
‘Heat‘ is a majestic trancey number that has a ‘Low’-ish vibe. Bowie has a line which perfectly encapsulates a man who has assumed so many identities over the years: “and I tell myself, I don’t know who I am.” Even now he remains a shape shifter, never content to be labeled in any one category.
With ‘The Next Day‘ Bowie acknowledges his age and the summation of a life fully lived, while proving he has plenty of life left in him. Welcome back.
Want to preview/buy ‘David Bowie’s The Next Day’ from iTunes of Amazon? Click on their respective links below. You can stream the full album on iTunes until it’s release date on March 12th.
[amazon_image id=”B00AYHKIZ6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Next Day (Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]
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