Released March 11, 2013
Let me first say that this review is completely unbiased. The fact that I would marry David Bowie and bear little Ziggys with fabulous ginger mullets and space suits does not mean I won’t give David’s new album The Next Day the full critique (notice we’re on a first name basis).
David has always been really great with the turn out, averaging anywhere from 1 to 3 years between albums. But it’s been 10 years since his album Reality, and honestly, fans just figured David had decided to settle down and stop recording. We just looked forward to the occasional re-re-released, re-re-mastered versions of all his old songs. Or maybe we could just catch his next farewell tour.
And then, without fanfare and completely unexpected, David released a single entitled “Where Are We Now” and announced the release of a new album. Now let’s get serious (moonlight).
The cover art is a blocked off version of “Heroes”; a cover any Bowie fan would recognize instantly, it is jolting to see such a prolific cover altered in any way. Reimagining himself is what David does best.
The album is meticulously produced and almost to a fault - it lacks Bowie’s brilliant spontaneity. This can especially be said for the vocals. A lot of the vocal line is rather repetitive and I would have liked to have heard more impulse. That being said, the album manages to marry all of David’s musical styles from Ziggy to the White Duke. He really revisits all of his personas and pulls the best from each.
The first released single, “Where Are We Now”, is very calm and retrospective. David remembers his time spent in Berlin and wonders on the changes the city has undergone. Topic-wise, this is probably the lightest song on the album. “Valentine’s Day” is a Ziggy-inspired tune about a school shooter. “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” contemplates revenge on a heartless Cold War assassin. “The Next Day” is about a man being dragged and beaten by an angry mob. This album is by no means a light and airy album. It requires a carefully-cocked ear and a time investment. Listeners should keep their wits about them; there is a huge statement being made here. But, true to Bowie, we’re kind of puzzled as to what exactly that statement is.
I may have sent out a mass email to friends and family (most of which couldn’t care less) with the link to the new single. For the record, my 66 year old grandmother (who knows how to check her email but not reply to it) called me and said, “Is this the nazi-goblin-spacesuit guy who had relations with Mick Jagger?”
Ahhh, Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am!