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April 15, 2013 | by  | in Arts Music |
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The Next Day – David Bowie

It’s been a decade, but Bowie is finally out of retirement with The Next Day, and a more subdued, complex sound. Because of his health scares, and because of the cover—a reworking of the iconic ‘Heroes’—The Next Day seems at first to be a rumination on ageing, even death, but it eschews this idea. This is evidenced from the start: in the titular track, one of many classic Bowie rock anthems contained herein, Bowie once again asserts himself: “Here I am / Not quite dying.”

It would be enough to have new Bowie, after all this time. But what we get is so much more; this is a proper album, not some half-arsed post-Best-Of revival. There are no dance tracks quite like ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ or ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (although ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ and ‘Dancing Out In Space’ come pretty close), but the complexity of music is really something: even ‘Where Are We Now?’ and its later counterpart, the transcendental ‘Heat’, aren’t dragged down by their tone. The ‘Bowie sound’, though present throughout, is remarkably fluid. For an album overshadowed by the early release of the sadder, more melodic, ‘Where Are We Now?’ in January, it is surprisingly upbeat.

While references to older tracks open these songs up to comparison, this isn’t ‘Bowie does Bowie.’ At 66, he’s still doing something new; for all the ruminations on death and ageing, what is remarkable about The Next Day is that it’s such a young album. “It’s the darkest hour, you’re 22,” sings the man three times this age in ‘Love Is Lost’, just as he praises new countries, accents, voices, and exhorting teenage excesses in the anti-war ‘I’d Rather Be High’.

Despite this, most of The Next Day’s sales will come from old Bowie fans looking to relive his glory days. Which is completely warranted. The songs on this album? Yes, you can sing along to them, drunk at 3 am, in a bad British accent, wearing obscene amounts of face paint. And after that the rest is a wonderful bonus.

4.5/5

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