Bowie is Back?… Let’s Dance!
On David Bowie’s 66th birthday the whole world was taken by storm as word of a new Bowie single released that day spread. The single “Where are we now?” was released without promotion from Bowie, and totally without warning (even his record label wasn’t aware he was recording). Along with the single came news it would be present on the ‘new album’. New album I hear you ask? Yes, Bowie was finally bringing out fresh material after a 10 year hiatus.
The single “Where are we now?” was a nostalgic take on Bowie’s cocaine fuelled years spent in Berlin (in the late 70’s), the time in his life is when he wrote and produced some of his most successful albums; Low, Heroes and Lodger (arguably his greatest material to date). “The Next Day” cover art is absolutely fantastic in my view, he reuses the artwork from “Heroes”, only now he’s defaced it; he’s crossed it out, he’s covered the front image. The cover is simple, it’s almost to suggest that (Heroes) is where he was, he’s revisiting his past, looking back. But this (The Next Day) is where he is now, this is the next chapter, – hence the title “The Next Day”.
So, was it worth the wait? Yes, I’d definitely say it was! I know that this is the biggest cliché when it comes to Bowie’s music of recent years, but I absolutely believe that this is his best album since “Scary Monsters” (1980). It’s been a huge wait, but finally after a long decade, I’m pleased to say his album “The Next Day” is a brilliant album! By this point in Bowie’s career as a musician, he’s got such a loyal fan base that he doesn’t need to bring an album out every couple of years, neither does he merely aim to ‘please the masses’ with pure hits. He can do something he likes, rather than trying for chart success (especially when his album happened to be already at No. 1 before it was even released due to pre-orders anyway, regardless of its content).
There are a number of tracks on this album which stand out, my personal favourites in particular are: The Stars (Are out tonight), If You Can See Me, Valentines Day, Dirty Boys, I’d rather be high, Dancing out in Space, and The Next Day which is my favourite song at the moment by any artist. There’s not even a single song on the album that I dislike. The music video that accompanies the single ‘The Next Day’ is fantastic, it’s incredibly thought provoking, and actually makes the listener able to appreciate the song itself more. The video certainly adds to the song, in that it adds more interest in terms of themes/content. The video shows Bowie portraying a Jesus-like character, or is definitely something suggested by the appearance of actor Gary Oldman (playing a priest) who calls out mid song “You call yourself a prophet?!”
Despite the album’s perfectly flowing melodies, each track within does surprisingly come with an identity entirely of it’s own with the religious (or more anti-religious) themes present in upbeat tracks such as ‘The Next Day’ fitting in well, even when positioned directly before the jazzy tones of ‘Dirty Boys’, followed by themes of Celebrity culture and the inevitable aging we all must go through in ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’. Bowie even focuses on the concept of war with the dulcet tones of ‘I’d Rather Be High’ including lines such as “I’d rather be dead, or out of my head, than training these guns on the men in the sand”. It’s always been Bowie’s musical ability to create the most lyrically thought provocative content of almost any artist that makes him such a talented and interesting musician to follow, only adding further to his now mass appeal. An example of his breathtakingly clearer song making is ‘Valentines Day’ in which the video contains brief connotations of gun crime, (if you’ve never noticed re-watch it and take note of the shadows on the wall). On top of this is The Next Day’s well produced glossy Hollywood quality that makes the single’s video seem like a short film tackling in particular religious corruption.
Overall this is my favourite album to come out of 2013 due to his incredibly reminiscent lyrics, and this on top of its amazingly directed music videos to match it’s no surprise to me that this album has been highly favoured by most critics. The shock release alone with his reminiscence of the Berlin years is enough to warrant a high rating from me as a huge Bowie fan, so I’m giving this album a massive 9 out of 10!