Review: Bowie’s back with ‘The Next Day’
David Bowie – The Next Day
Surprise! After spending the past half a decade or so out of the public eye, for the most part, David Bowie is back. Over the past two years he’s managed to secretly write and record an album’s worth of material and finally release a brand new CD full of all-new material – his first in 10 years.
When an artist like Bowie has been doing what he has, they frequently make the mistake of trying to retain their original “cool,” if you will, and wind up only appearing tragically pathetic in the midst of some sort of mid-life crisis. Thank the gods, the thin white duke was blessed with a greater kind of cool; the sort that allows him to say ‘f*ck the ‘cool’ and concentrate on writing a great f*cking record. Right after the turn of the century he reunited with Tony Visconti, who produced many of Bowie’s defining albums in the 1970s. Since then, his albums have gotten progressively better and apparently the streak continues.
Artists like David Bowie, especially at this stage of their careers, all too often ultimately wind up making mockeries of their former, once great images and names. Thankfully -for his legions of admirers, anyway – Bowie’s dignity is still intact. At this point one might be asking, “What should I expect?” As usual, the best place to start would probably be at the beginning. The title track “The Next day” opens it all up with the energy of a live set opener. Songs like “(You Will) Set The World On Fire” and “I’ll Take You There” have equal rock ‘n’ roll verve. While The Next Day is not as experimental in terms of “modern” genre-crossing styles as some of his releases have been in the past, still, the approach is brick solid. Cuts like “Dirty Boys” and “If You Can See Me” toy with atypical time signatures and peculiar rhythm counts. Forever the renaissance man, he’s remaining true to beloved form and producing scattered varieties ever pleasing to the aural senses. Nostalgic listeners might be rather pleased with a nice mid-’70s throwback vibe on “Valentine’s Day.” The air gets a bit somber in tracks like “Heat” and “Where Are We Now?” the latter having a kind of a smoky lounge feel to it.
Some people are going so far as to say that this could be the best comeback in the history of Rock & Roll. Is it? Well, that’s subjective. Then again, so are these reviews, almost by definition. With that having been said, The Next Day is a huge sigh of relief, even as a fan of the previous few releases. Buy or download the album for yourself, I say, with complete confidence that every chance is there that you’ll be a happy, and relieved, little Bowie fan once it is all said and done. That is, if you were a Bowie fan to begin with, of course.