Review Summary: The reality of a legend finding his confidence again is a delight to behold…
was a true return to form for David Bowie, and its often hailed accolade of being ‘his best album in 30 years’ is well deserved. It seemed as though he had found himself once again and the results were telling – a consistent and exciting track-list, which sounded more assured than anything he did post-Scary Monsters
. It proved to be a crucial statement to the press, fans and the listening world that Bowie still had some gas in the tank because its tracks didn’t consciously try to be on trend or innovative – they were just very solid, well-constructed songs from a talented craftsman, quietly leafing through an old photograph book of times gone by. Essentially, Reality
follows the same blueprint as its predecessor and hits all the same highpoints in the process.
Like last year’s effort, Reality
is a confident, mature and self-assured album featuring a consistent set of polished songs. Tony Visconti returns in the producers chair and his skilful hand is once again appreciated as he channels Bowie’s ideas into fully-functioning modern gems. There’s nothing as rocking as ‘Slow Burn’ this time around, but the album has a slightly weirder edge to it, with odd sparkles of noise and subtle inclusions of Bowie’s treasured Stylophone flecked throughout. Still, it’s more of the same when it comes down to it, and that’s precisely why Reality
shapes up as a great listen; practically on a par with Heathen
The hollow drums and jerky guitars of the fantastic opening cut, ‘New Killer Star’ are quietly reminiscent of his Berlin-era tunes, whilst the jazzy piano flourishes on the lengthy closing piece, ‘Bring Me The Disco King’ evoke sophisticated Aladdin
tracks such as ‘Lady Grinning Soul’, without sounding cheaply retro or obvious (probably down to the fact that it’s Mike Garson tapping the keys on this record too). The set improves with repeated listens and reveals its catchiness and solid construction over time, boasting highlights such as the nervy cover of ‘Pablo Picasso’, the steady panic, ‘Never Get Old’, and the touching sentimentality of ‘The Loneliest Guy’.
are both superb modern Bowie albums, harking back to older days of glory without seeming desperate to dig up the past and use it as a platform – instead using it as a springboard for influence and creativity. The reason Heathen
crops up a lot in this review is simply because it works perfectly aside Reality
in painting the full portrait picture of Bowie in the 00s – confident, directed and ready to remind the world that he’s a superb songwriter, lest they forget or remain uncertain after the nervous genre-hopping of the preceding decade.
The albums share not only similar sounds, but conjoined lyrical themes also. There’s an undercurrent of darkness and paranoia that’s pretty much essential to the characterisation of a Bowie record, and they both share his thoughts on spirituality, the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. Reality
is just another great Bowie record then, and serves as a satisfying part 2 to what Heathen
started; the only bitterness born with the hindsight we have in 2011 of the shape of things to come – precisely, that nothing did come afterwards. Whether Bowie’s succeeding heart problems or something else turned him off writing another album, the absence of a new record and no news on the horizon of plans to enter the studio sadly suggest that this might be the last Bowie record. He’s almost a pensioner after all, but who cares? Reality
suggests there’s life in the old dog yet and its success proved that there’s a world of Bowiephiles praying for one more record from one of the planet’s greatest and most influential living artists. Come on Davey Jones; make our dreams of one more album a reality!