David Bowie: The Next Day

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Posted March 28, 2013 by in Rock
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Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

4/ 5

Details

Genre:
 
Producer:
 
Label: ,
 
 
 
 
Genre: Rock, Glam rock
 
Producer: Ton Visconti
 
Label: ISO, Columbia
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 53:14
 
Release Date: 8 March 2013
 
Spin This: "The Stars (Are Out Tonight," "Love Is Lost," "The Next Day," "Where Are We Now?"
 

Pros:

Bowie has rediscovered his muse; tunes like "The Next Day," "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" and "Love Is Lost" prove that
 

Cons:

One funky jam in the idea of "Fashion" or "Let's Dance" or "Fame" would've giving the album more versatility and even more leverage
 

Even with all the glam surrounding the comeback, Bowie’s top secret record is already shaping up to be an AOTY contender

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Even with all the glam surrounding the comeback, Bowie’s top secret record is already shaping up to be an AOTY contender

It’s hard to predict the course that David Bowie is going to go. He’s always gone the direction he wants to tread and hardly compromises with the standards of present-day explorations. Taking a cue from one of his Ziggy Stardust outbursts, he’s a space oddity. He’s proven just that with the tight-lipped confidentiality surrounding his latest odyssey, The Next Day. It’s the closing chapter to his Berlin trilogy: 1977’s Low and Heroes predates it. And you can see that manifestation on the strange album cover, which borrows the Heroes cover while tossing a plain white box in front of it bearing only the album title. He’s also returned into the arms of producer Tony Visconti to helm up the assignment. Now thirty six years away from yesterday, the painstaking activities of comparing The Next Day to the aforementioned albums are bound to surface on message boards and discussion threads. And some will even question why it took the Thin White Duke so long to finish up the saga. But that’s not what’s so marveling about this particular episode. It’s how Bowie has aged gracefully and how comfortable he sounds in his own universe of emotion-driven avant-garde rock. In some places, Bowie goes for the polished handiwork on the Nile Rodgers Let’s Dance playbook (“Love Is Lost”), then enters third-person narrative on the off-humored love story of “Valentine’s Day,” then dips into a R.E.M.-sounding posture (“I’d Rather Be High”). He even traces the guitar revving of Jack White’s “Sixteen Saltines” on the unabashed rock of “(You Will) Set the World on Fire.” These are all elements he knows very well, and thankfully he doesn’t sound aged, out of place or depleted of passion. As if he’s entering a mid-life crisis, he enters a world of melancholic expressionism on “Where Are We Now?.” It’s part of the act, folks. He dresses up for the role as he conjures faint memories of his motherland while “walking the dead.” He then asks the question “where are we now” as if he’s lost in space. Luckily, there’s a bit of hope when a hint of light bursts into the scene, as the siren-like guitar wails and the drums toll like a marching band. He finds solace when he recites the final string of lyrics: “As long as there’s rain/as long as there’s fire/as long as there’s me/as long as there’s you.”

The album produces a good share of attractions. The title cut is definitely most amusing, as Bowie dresses himself using Fred Schneider talk-sing fun right before the chorus while playing with a heavy dose of funky rock. The bluesy psychedelic “Dirty Boys” works its way unto Tom Waits turf and may catch some off guard, but delivers the goods as an attention-getter. The album’s biggest star is without a doubt, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).” He really comes alive when he speaks of the Big Apple-Hollywood’s jet set and has no problem facing the grey clouds of life when he pledges that “stars are never sleeping/dead ones and the living.” The lyric is giving an extra push with its full display of rock jam adrenaline. Even the atmosphere inside “Dancing Out of Space” strikes up some interest as it marches with a traditional rock tempo yet buoyed by Indian sitar, strings and the occasional psychedelic spins. While it isn’t landmark material, it does a good job covering up his that other “dancing” fiasco he did with Mick Jagger.

Of course, the album would’ve gone to galactic heights if Bowie had entertained such a jam in the style of “Fashion.” Something like that would’ve given him yet another glowing opportunity to show off more of his glam. The Next Day isn’t a glamorous finish, but it is a stunning return to form after a ten-year hiatus and actually does a fine job trumping most of his latter-day work.

 


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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