Where: ISO/Columbia Records
Well, it’s new Bowie, something I thought we’d never experience again. In the last ten years David Bowie has acted, produced and suffered heart scares and the notion of him being in the right frame of mind to get behind a microphone was steadily becoming impossible to believe, however a surprise gift came in the form of Where Are We Now? which Bowie released out of nowhere on his 66th birthday suddenly breathed new life in the aged notion that hey, Bowie’s alright.
Where Are We Now? didn’t exactly Set the World On Fire as it’s slow paced, nostalgic instrumentation complete with strained, aged vocals didn’t exactly set the foundation for people to get hyped about The Next Day. Infact it led many people to believe that Bowie had lost it, and that this new album was going to be another one to add the pile of crap Bowie albums. Bowie definitely needed to take a breather from music for a while, and fortunately The Next Day shows he’s got his breath back.
For an album that struggles to keep to the same path throughout, it is constantly providing some groovy instrumentation. The title track opens the album with a Ziggy Stardust-esque introduction, whereas the sax driven Dirty Boys injects a real sensual movement. There’s also some real sass in there too with tracks such as Valentine’s Day and (You Will) Set The World On Fire channelling the Bowie of old and providing some real good rock numbers on the record.
There’s a lot of old school sounds used and Bowie manages to turn them into fresh and exciting modern material. Love Is Lost is an infectiously gritty number with some crunchy distorted guitars and piercing synths. And surprisingly Where Are We Now? becomes a great track because of how different it is from the rest. It’s stark, almost burdened instrumentation paired with Bowie’s strained vocals becomes striking but also extremely beautiful with some wonderful guitar chords and light, impactful atmosphere.
The Next Day is easily the best album from Bowie in a long, long time. There are so many great songs scattered throughout that can be enjoyed individually but as a whole unit the record becomes a very stark reminder that Bowie is best. It proves that while the latter stage of his career was full of poor records, he still has the imagination and talent that got him hugely successful all over the world. The amount of glam rock, ballads, jazz rock and many more genres packed into this record allow it to take so many twists and turns that it’s pretty much impossible not to get bored by it. There’s also a hint of ease too, as if Bowie is happy to be making music again, and as if the heavily edited cover of 1977’s Heroes wasn’t enough, it seems Bowie knows he is past his peak and is just looking forward to enjoying the next stage of his career, and if that means no more tours so he could produce more albums like this, then I’m completely fine with that.