One of the most highly anticipated album releases for some years, David Bowie returns after nearly a decade of inactivity, with his 24th studio album ‘The Next Day’. The whole album has been knee-deep in anticipation, what with it being kept a secret from us until Bowie’s 66th birthday, and with it being the first album of material from him in nearly a decade. It is a welcome surprise from one of music’s biggest and best-loved artists, who for decades has stunned fans with his amazing music and his bizzare ability to easily reinvent himself with any genre.
It is interesting when artists return to music after years of inactivity, and especially when one artist has already managed to establish such a well revered and recognised career. I feel that sometimes when certain artists reach old age, they try desperately to cling onto what they achieved in their youth, and in the end any performance or music from these people comes off as incredibly shallow and desperate. It seems though that Bowie has just been able to embrace old-age, and rather than try to reclaim the glory he had when he was younger, he is instead just being himself, and making music that he knows he can make. It is an incredibly decent move by Bowie, as it makes the music he’s creating at this age appear to be much more genuine. He isn’t trying to repeat the past, but instead present the current situation for himself right now. We can see this on the album cover alone, where the past of David Bowie is being obliterated, to make way for the future. There’s a lot of imagery and subtext in the album it seems, and only subtext that David Bowie could present.
As an album, ‘The Next Day’ just works on nearly every level. The instrumentals for each song is as strong as anything he has written in the past, and easily better the albums that could be described as Bowie’s ‘failings’. (I’m thinking specifically of ‘Never Let Me Down’ here). Musically, the album seems to recall so many of the styles that Bowie has tried over the years, whilst at the same time still flowing from one song to the next without the genres sounding jarring. It’s a rock-pop record in my opinion, which I would argue is the core-basis for the genre in which Bowie has worked in. Despite the absence of some of Bowie’s more well known collaborators, the music is still easy to enjoy. The main attraction of every song though is Bowie’s vocals, which for his age, sound remarkable. Bowie still sings with the emotion and depth that he has done on his previous records, and if anything, he sings perhaps stronger than those older records.
There’s a lot to enjoy on ‘The Next Day’, and in many ways it is perhaps one of the strongest album releases in the last decade. It is a great record, and it is something that Bowie can really be proud of. Musically, it is as strong as anything Bowie has written before, and as a complete album package it just works in every way. I do believe that it isn’t his best album of all time, (For me, ‘Low’, ‘Station to Station’ and ‘Heroes’ have reserved those spots), but it is still an incredibly strong album. It shows so much depth and talent from Bowie that we actually haven’t seen before, which for someone who has reinvented himself so many times, is just a staggering achievement. What amazes me most is how strong the album is vocally, which is just an incredibly pleasant thing to hear. The whole album shows that Bowie hasn’t gone stale yet, and that he can still release amazing albums, whenever he feels like it. ‘The Next Day’ feels just like an album that Bowie just wants to release, with no real purpose or agenda. Just something he wants to do, and why not? With Bowie being one of the most talented song-writers of this day and age, he is allowed to indulge himself in music whenever he wants. All Bowie needs to do is keep being Bowie, and nothing more.
- ★★★★★ 5/5
- The Next Day
- The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
- How Does The Grass Grow?
- You Feel So Lonely You Could Die