Saturday, March 30th, 2013
CONTEST – David Bowie / The Next Day
Jonathan BarnbrookWhile the surprise announcement in January that David Bowie would be releasing his first new album in a decade was largely met with equal parts shock and delight – though perhaps as much because he’d managed the impossible in keeping the existence of it a secret in hyper-connected 2013 as the actual prospect of new Bowie music. Most remarkably, though, was the fact that an artist who had successfully withdrawn from public life and transitioned into myth – and was alive and well enough to enjoy that status – had chosen to come come down from the mountain and possibly put that all at risk by reopening his legacy. Or maybe it’s not remarkable at all; after all, the man is an artist and artists create.
But strip away the remarkable narrative around The Next Day and you’ve still got a very good record that, while it doesn’t stand alongside his best epoch-defining records, still puts lie to the notion that he’s done nothing worthwhile since Scary Monsters. It is self-referential, but consciously so – the drum outro on “(You Will) Set the World on Fire” is not an accident – and the past is only used as a point of perspective; there’s no intent to try and recreate it or pretend he’s not every day of his sixty-six years.
He does intend, however, to prove that hexagenarians can rock. Fears that the first preview – “Where Are We Now?” – would set an elegiac, fragile tone for this album were wholly unfounded – The Next Day finds Bowie in full rock sophisticate mode, with “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and “Valentine’s Day” as good as anything he’s done in the past 30 years. And while those who had romanticized the story of Bowie – enabled over the past decade by his “retirement” – may be frustrated that it’s not a work of absolute majesty and proves he’s still very much human and capable of missteps, those of us with more realistic expectations should be more than pleasantly surprised.
Courtesy of With A Bullet, I’ve got two copies of The Next Day – one on LP, one on CD – to give away to some lucky Canadian. To enter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “I want Bowie’s The Next Day on CD” or “I want Bowie’s The Next Day on LP” in the subject line, as the case may be, and your full name and mailing address in the body and have that to me by midnight, April 13. And again, Canucks only. Sorry, non-Canucks.
Tags: David Bowie