Album review: David Bowie – The Next Day

by Samuel Mensah / The Upcoming

4th March 2013

Living legend and icon for over 40 years, David Bowie is back after a ten year sabbatical from the music world. The master of transformation and reinvention is now releasing his latest LP, The Next Day, and he has allowed the album to stream on iTunes for a limited time only.

Since his reported heart attack in 2004, Bowie has kept stage appearances and musical dabbling to a minimum, making this record a highly anticipated one: his first studio album in a decade. From the beginning, the maestro is intent on establishing that this is not a sombre affair. The opening title track is punchy and touches on the disenchanted subjects of older material.

Bowie appears to be revisiting old territory with lyrics filled with angst incorporating an anti-establishment agenda. The Stars (Are out Tonight) is a left-field pop single that should get the audience in the mood to groove. His voice is instantly recognisable but lacks the strength of his youth.

Released on 8th January, the first single from the album, Where Are We Now, is a deep ballad which has enough emotional impact to become a classic over time. Boss of Me and I’d Rather Be High confirm the superstar has not lost his artistic edge – he is still filling his songs with dense references, while If You Can See Me demonstrates a complex experimental side and an unrelenting rock edge.

Dancing out in Space is a highlight, with the jubilant drum drive of an Arcade Fire track and evidence of Bowie’s love of the saxophone. How Does the Grass Grow? exudes the pop energy of the 80s and includes an intrusive yet alluring vocal.

The Next Day acts almost like a greatest hits record, celebrating the genre defying artist that Bowie is, and proving how important his figure is to British and world music. Almost effortlessly, he comes across as just as relevant now as he was when he first made waves on the scene with Ziggy Stardust. We can only hope that Bowie’s latest foray signals his return as the prolific songster that he is clearly forever meant to be.

Verdict: ••••


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