Album: The Next Day
Record Label: ISO/ Columbia Records
David Bowie's first in 10 years is not necessarily his most consistent, but it is his most vital in a long time
There will be many people who feel that David Bowie, one of the most enrapturing and influential musical presences of all time, has nothing to prove. When 2003's "Reality" received a considerably poorer than usual reception, it didn't seem to matter, because the past 30 years of Bowie's career still shone brightly and effervescently in comparison. 10 years on and it's completely reasonable to suggest that nobody really knew what to expect from "The Next Day." Numerous health scares had halted activity, and when Bowie released the first single from "The Next Day", the docile and subtly grandiose "Where Are We Now?" although it was largely received as the gorgeously warm slow burner it was, it didn't necessarily give any ideas as to what the direction of the record would be.
It's probable that nobody was expecting to turn on the opening title track and finding it to be a rush of cocksure confidence and swaggering charisma. "Here I am, Not quite dying" churls Bowie over a rollicking riff. He barely stops for breath from this point forth.
"Dirty Boys" lavishes in smutty honky tonk filth, parps of brass intervening and putting a soulful sheen on the sleazy crawl. "Love Is Lost" and "Valentine's Day" traverse along a more measured and stately approach but are still punchy and sonically memorable. A dip in extravagance in the middle however is countered immediately afterwards by "If You Can See Me." Skittish, hyperactive and yet anthemic, it's almost entirely new territory for Bowie if not one of his most favourable tunes.
"Dancing Out In Space" is a jiving, cosmic marriage of spacious beauty and heydey '80s finger- clicking funk. Perhaps finest of all though is "(You Will) Set The World On Fire" a fiery fist- pumper of epic proportions which can safely be considered one of the most life affirming songs Bowie has written since his golden era.
In reference to any previous speculation about Bowie's return, "The Next Day" is not one of Bowie's best albums ever, but it is one of his most important. When it slows down it's textured and moving, and when it's upbeat it's life affirming. Bowie doing Bowie then, and in a more vital manner than he has done for years.
Key Tracks: "(You Will) Set The World On Fire", "The Next Day", "Love Is Lost"
For fans of: David Bowie, The Rolling Stones