Review – David Bowie – The Next Day

2 Mar

Alright, everyone!  I’m sure you’re tired of me writing about David Bowie.  That’s fine, because the day has finally come in which I might review his newest album (I still can’t believe I can say that!).  That’s right, you too can stream David Bowie’s The Next Day on iTunes (though they’ve been having a lot of technical difficulties) by clicking here.  

The album went up last night, but I was incredibly unwell yesterday and slept most of the day, rather than listening.  I’m glad I saved this for the first moments of my Spring Break, because I know the album is going to be a constant companion over the next two weeks as I vacation from my scholarly duties.

Enough about me, though:  The album!  There’s nothing like the feeling of coming home and that is exactly what this album is: a sort of homecoming.  The opener, “The Next Day” reminded me so much of “Suffragette City” and “Beauty and the Beasts” forgotten love-child I thought I may possibly have been listening to the wrong thing (after all, I had to stream the album on Grooveshark thanks to Apple’s inefficiencies).  But, no, as the album progresses, it becomes quite obvious that it’s a pleasant combination of the old and new.  “Dancing Out In Space”, another favorite of mine after “Where Are We Now?” doesn’t sound like any one particular era of Bowie, but I found myself growing nostalgic (for an era I wasn’t even a part of) regardless as it played.

This album rocks hard, as promised by Mr. Visconti, apparent spokesman for all things David Bowie.  It’s also full of a great deal of rather amusing references to Bowie’s supposed “retirement” and the paparazzi he appears to be avoiding quite ardently.   Title track, “The Next Day” sets the scene for this new era (if the album cover and title hadn’t already taken care of that) with it’s chorus:

“Here I am, not quite dying

My body left to rot in a hollow tree

Its branches throwing shadows on the gallows for me

And the next day, and the next day and another day.”

I also feel that “Where Are We Now?” is a reference to this comeback as well, though I have heard that the song is actually referring to some other body of work.  Ah well, lyric interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.  I want to believe that he’s thanking us for our support in some way or another and that lyric “As long as there’s me as long as there’s you” almost makes me cry every time I hear it.

Meanwhile, second single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” almost slipped past me the first time I heard it, but with the video clear in my mind and a bit more attention to the lyrics this go around and it is fairly obvious that it is a not-so-subtle jab at the paparazzi.  I love the lyrics as they are, but with that knowledge, they are certainly biting:

And they know just what we do

That we toss and turn at night

They’re waiting to make their moves

But the stars are out tonight…

They burn you with their radiant smiles

Trap you with their beautiful eyes

They’re broke and shamed or drunk or scared

But I hope they live forever

Watch the video to see what I mean: Video – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

There are actually quite a few references to “Stars” throughout the album.  It’s going to be a delicious few more listens until  I can figure out if they’re all related, but, since this is my blog and I do what I want, I’m going to submit this review anyways, I have to be timely, after all.

A quick note on most of the remaining tracks:

  • I absolutely love the use of the sultry saxophone in “Dirty Boys”.
  • “Love Is Lost” is easily going to become one of my favorite tracks by the end of the day.  It’s so gritty and dark and Bowie’s voice sounds fantastic on it.
  • “Valentine’s Day” may be my least favorite track for now, but I’m willing to concede this later.  It wasn’t any one particular thing I disliked, and I certainly loved the backing vocals and Space Oddityesque vocals, I’m not sure what rubbed me the wrong way.  I think it was just the sheer number of times he said “Valentine’s Day” which was irritating me.
  • I can’t get enough of “If You Can See Me”, even though it’s absolutely ridiculous.  It’s so fast paced and almost sounds vaguely metal or video game boss battle music.  Plus there’s the Alvin and the Chipmunks effects going on.  “(You Will) Set the World On Fire” is also a bit harder than anything I can remember hearing by Bowie.
  • Another of the really old-school Bowie sounding tracks: “I’d Rather Be High” shares the sentiments of us all.  I don’t want to repeat myself too much, so I’m just going to say “How Does the Grass Grow?” is also awesome for this exact same reason, how much Bowie just…sounds like himself.
  • Again, excellent use of saxophone on “Boss of Me”, which I always like, but otherwise, this is another song that didn’t really click with me.
  • I briefly mentioned above, but “Dancing Out in Space” is probably my favorite song on this album.  It’s got such a fun groove going on, almost reminds me of a song by The Strokes, but then Bowie’s there, really just killing it and there are those really retro synthesizers that I’m such a sucker for.
  • Finally, “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and “Heat” make a gorgeous closing pair and get the job done of sending us home on a mellower note, my favorite way to go.

Bottom line: This isn’t David Bowie’s greatest work, but it doesn’t need to be, the man’s catalog is brilliant enough as stands.  The fact that he’s still making music for us to soak up and enjoy is gift enough, and it’s not like this album is a disappointment.  All I can ask for now, desperately, pleading is a tour.


Score for now:  8/10

2 Responses to “Review – David Bowie – The Next Day”

  1. jumbledwriter 02/03/2013 at 08:42 #

    Enjoyed your review. I look forward to this album!

    • bono212 03/03/2013 at 16:30 #

      Thank you, it’s a very enjoyable album.

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