David Bowie – The Next DayPosted: March 19, 2013
I’ve been away for a while, but just like David Bowie with The Next Day, I’ve unexpectedly returned…
It’s been 10 long, silent years for Bowie fans around the world without hearing any new material from their thin white duke. Then, on his 66th birthday, a new single titled Where Are We Now? rippled through news channels and newspapers, marking somewhat of a return, albeit a very modest one.
(Just the simple act of wishing to share his music apparently lead to ‘The Next Day’s release, tours and interviews never had a second consideration.)
That first single perhaps cradled us falsely into believing the new album would be Bowie chilled out and in a dreamy reflection, which was possibly to lead us through a downplayed path.
But the first single of the album ‘The Next Day’ shatters previous perceptions with it’s punchy vocals, delivered with such energy, against a backdrop of wining guitars and an uninterrupted drum beat. The curtain drops.
Despite his absence for 10 years nothing has escaped his voice, it’s still strong, it’s still Bowie.
Valentine’s Day is equally as satisfying in it’s guitar intro, whilst If You Can See Me shows Bowie hasn’t completely let go off his drum machine (glaringly obvious in his Drum and Bass phrase) but it has smoothed out, a little.
‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, a gem on the album and particularly catchy for radio plays, rings bittersweet as a sweet melody accompanied with haunting lyrics. “Stars are never sleeping, the dead ones and the living…” there’s no doubt this links to the curse of being a star, a Hollywood great, a musician, who finds no peace when fame finds them. This is no surprise as Bowie grew increasingly jaded over his own years, decades, in the same spotlight, a man lost in time.
There’s also pockets of lyrics which pass comment on the present reality, shrouded and not direct, such as “training guns with men in the sand” on I’d Rather Be High, small leaks of personal opinion we’re not often given.
The second half of the album veers off into a looser direction, which makes the album sound like it hasn’t taken 10 years to make, or that time to have been trawled over, perfected, which may conjure mixed feelings from different reviews.
I cannot pinpoint pure vocals on the album either, without the same radio/crackling effect that’s been used on Bowie’s voice, which unfortunately verges on overused.
His stamp of unique pop music combined with electronic quirks and flourish, which no-one else has managed to pull off, still makes ‘The Next Day’ a very solid album.
An arguable point is what Bowie set to achieve with this album was not to achieve; just to share and play the music, a simple tune for a simpler time.