One of the biggest music stars to have ever lived, a British icon and legend, David Bowie returns with his first album in 10 years, ‘The Next Day’, an out-of-the-blue surprise announced on his 66th birthday back in January. And now it is finally with us and fans feverishly anticipating the release can be satisfied in the knowledge their hero has delivered an excellent piece of work.
Just 10 seconds into the titular opener, we find Bowie at his most familiar, a ferocious duel between drum beats and guitar riff, instantly recognisable to fans of the flamboyant star. It’s a positive, upbeat start to the LP, allaying fears that this return was just a cash-in, although really we all knew that wouldn’t be the case, it’s David Bowie for god’s sake! ‘Dirty Boys’, slows down the pace a notch and adds in a bit of jazz funk. It works, sounding as filthy and dirty as its title suggests. Recent single, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, is already a personal favourite, with its quirky accompanying music video starring Tilda Swinton, and its gentle tones allowing Bowie to fully disclose his feelings on the life of a modern-day celebrity, with hints of why he’s adopted his own ‘under-the-radar’ status in recent years.
‘Love is Lost’, is the first track I don’t really care for, it’s ‘raw’ vocals not really working for me, and the electro-organ a little bit grating in its excessive use. Then to the song that started this revival, ‘Where are we Now?’, a song which makes Bowie sound much older than his current 66 years, but beautiful nonetheless, building to an awesome crescendo of sound at its end. The middling trio of ‘Valentine’s Day’, ‘If You Can See Me’, and ‘I’d Rather Be High’, are good, showing flashes of different sounds and genres, different sides of the legend we all know and love. They differ, but are familiar at the same time, with shouty choruses and catchy backing beats.
A bass line comes to the forefront of ‘Boss of Me’, in a slower, brass-based tune that is again a nice change of pace. ‘Dancing Out in Space’, a title reminiscent of the famed parody of Bowie by comedy act ‘Flight of the Conchords’, sees a few ethereal guitars join the combo, mixing in and out with an energetic drum beat. Bowie does Pop.
We turn the clock back 60 years with back-to-back duo, ‘How Does the Grass Grow?’, which rips of riff straight from the 60’s and adds a honky-tonk piano, and ‘(You Will) Set The World On Fire’, a different proposition, still gentle, but with a tougher riff and a nice backing vocal holding things together, it goes on a for a bit though!
Bowie turns a bit Elvis, with a title straight from the ‘King’ in, ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’, and it all goes slushy and sentimental, yet another sign of this album and it’s chameleon-like tendencies. Closer ‘Heat’, is a melodic tune that brings the album to an end with a lull, it doesn’t really go up or down in terms of the soaring songs heard earlier, but it is personal and intimate, a nice way to end this mix of genres.
So, overall, David Bowie has hit the right tune. Sure, there are a couple of needless tracks, almost verging on the filler side of things, but overall it’s a fantastic return to form that all fans should ravish, and will hopefully get a whole new generation to discover a living legend in the world of music. It’s streaming for free over on iTunes now, ahead of it’s release on Monday March 11th.
1. The Next Day
2. Dirty Boys
3. The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
4. Love is Lost
5. Where Are We Now?
6. Valentine’s Day
7. If You Can See Me
8. I’d Rather Be High
9. Boss of Me
10. Dancing Out in Space
11. How Does the Grass Grow?
12. (You Will) Set the World on Fire
13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die