"The Next Day" reminiscent of vintage David Bowie
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 15:03
The Thin White Duke is back.
After a ten year hiatus, David Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Major Tom, has returned with his latest studio album, “The Next Day,” and it’s as good as any that are, by now, considered his classic albums. Bowie’s musical career spans nearly four decades, and for those of us who remember most of it, his latest offering is a welcome offering.
“The Next Day” is an eclectic mix of dance tracks, art rock, maudlin and haunting ballads, and the sort of prog-rock psychedelia fans expect of Bowie. The album cover features the original art from his 1999 album “Heroes,” but with a white square strategically placed over his face.
It’s a signal that Bowie intends on “The Next Day” not to break with his past, but to assimilate it into his future and use the best parts of it.
The album opens with The Next Day, a fast-paced, danceable track that starts strong and builds to a sharp crescendo of apocalyptic fantasy reminiscent of 1972’s “Five Years.”
Haunting lyrics like “Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree” combine with the almost frantic pace of the rhythm to create a feeling of desperation.
From the first track’s frenzied pace, Bowie segues into the slower, stranger “Dirty Boys,” a song that evokes desperation in a different way, the star looking for release and comfort in a climate that offers little: “When the sun goes down, when the sun goes down and the die is cast, when the die is cast and you have no choice, you will run with dirty boys.”
The first video release of the album, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is the signature track of the album.
An almost self-deprecating homage to stardom, celebrity, our obsession with it and the price of it, this track is a haunting and melodic work of art.
Like all good art rock, it’s as contemplative as it is commentary, as shown in lines like “We will never be rid of them, but I hope they live forever.”
It’s Bowie at his finest, singing about the cult of celebrity he found himself both reveling in and trapped by.
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” rings with the desperation of a star as envious of the simple life of ordinary people as they are of his life in the spotlight.
I could go on, but the truth is with 17 tracks of art rock eclectica, there’s enough on this album to satisfy both ardent fans like me who grew up watching Bowie’s strange, unpredictable career arc, and newcomers like my kids, who I introduced to Bowie after acquiring a copy of “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” this weekend at Half-Price Books.
“The Next Day” is a wonderfully eclectic addition to a discography that inspired generations of art rockers. Bowie remains the consummate showman, as adept as ever at using his voice as an instrument and unafraid to do so. It’s a refreshing change from today’s electrified, synthesized, autotuned pop to hear a true artist at work.
It may be the next day for Bowie, but I hope it’s a new day for future fans.
“The Next Day” has not been released yet, but you can stream it free on iTunes. Be assured that it will find a similar home in my iTunes library.