David Bowie
The Next Day


4.0
excellent

Review

by Seth Barry-Hinton USER (18 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2013 | 164 replies | 15,669 views


Release Date: 03/08/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Still rocking at sixty-six.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

The Next Day opens by hitting hard and doesn't slow down much from there on out, other than fade-outs between each new song to give the listener a quick breather. Most of the pieces here can only be labeled as a punch to a gut, a term usually reserved for describing grindcore albums. Not because Bowie repeats himself in tempo or sound, but because the album just generally rocks - it largely charges forward without reservations. Sonically funky and artistic in the same style that he pioneered decades ago, Bowie is not aping himself: he's just infusing modern attitudes and sounds into as opposed to resting on his laurels like most comeback artists. The Next Day is not to be closely analyzed as a classic or conceptual beast, like much of Bowie's earlier work, but just to be enjoyed because of his strong abilities as a songwriter, the cohesive collection of music, and the top-notch artists who are backing him.

Most of the songs are extensively layered, with an assortment of distorted guitar riffs and licks overlapping each other atop grooving bass and drums, frequently backed by string sections, synths, or saxophone solos. The first track is probably one of the most simple by comparison, an alternative rock song with limited strings and a rushing riff. Bowie growls his way through the chorus, a tactic that proves oddly charming. The title track is followed up by "Dirty Boys", which features a jazz/funk-laden, creative saxophone support and solo, and at least three guitars. The creeping verses are backed by menacing and slightly absurd lyrics such as "I will buy a feathered hat/I will steal a cricket bat/Smash some windows, make a noise/We will run with the dirty boys". Later on down the line, a more uplifting track appears in the form of "Valentine's Day", which incorporates sunny combinations of electric and acoustic guitar and wavering backing vocals, in a slightly disturbing contrast with the subject matter, which details the mind of a bullying victim with violent feelings - "Valentine told me who's to go/Feelings he's treasured most of all/The teachers and the football stars". Bowie retains the ability to write words with a combination of class and grit, deftly refined in avoidance of rehashing his classic conceptual work or the Berlin Trilogy.

Even lyrics that normally would be somewhat silly and repellent in the hands of some post-grunge band are well-executed here, like those on the bass-heavy, soaring rocker "Boss of Me", in which he delivers with tongue only slightly in cheek, "Who'd have ever dreamed that a small town girl like you would be the boss of me". The album is ended with "Heat", a slower song with the ringing sound of a gong or something similar echoing throughout. "Heat" is perfect in this role, slapping a neat bow onto the package. The amazing aspect to this album is the profound lack of self-indulgence on the behalf of Bowie & Co., despite all the studio work. No song overstays its welcome or repeats too much, and as a result many of the songs on this album are fleshed out just enough and are not drained of their special nature. Nor do they lapse into played-out Bowieisms, but remain thoroughly distinct.

But The Next Day has its troubles. "Where Are We Now?", despite being an excellent song, sticks out badly surrounded by up-beat alternative rock songs, and may have fit better either standing alongside "Heat" or arriving earlier in the album. The last few tracks stand on shaky ground as well, as between "How Does the Grass Grow" and "Heat" are two tracks that are not nearly as attention-grabbing as their surroundings, and "Love Is Lost" suffers a similar fate to a less significant extent. This is largely a problem of ordering, as these songs are either surrounded by album highlights or positioned towards the conclusion, reducing their impact.

Still, the album is roaring and enormous, and despite having no clear statement can still be appreciated for how consistent it is. As a sixty-six year old, Bowie's consistently unique songcraft is astounding and impressive, and The Next Day could most likely carry its own weight amongst the upper echelons of his catalog.



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user ratings (373)
Chart.
3.8
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Comments:Add a Comment 
JazzHands333
March 1st 2013



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Streaming on iTunes.

http://search.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZContentLink.woa/wa/link?path=DavidBowie



sideburndude
March 1st 2013



2782 Comments


Whoa sweet

Calc
March 1st 2013



12111 Comments


Bowie's in spaaaaaaaaace..

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

tommygun
March 1st 2013



24137 Comments


sweet

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

foxblood
March 1st 2013



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

can't wait to hear, probably going to be a 5

CasinoColumbus
March 1st 2013



340 Comments


So this is not a grindcore album? That's a pity. In all seriousness, I didn't expect this to be as good as you say it is. I'll give it a shot sometime soon. Also, pretty good review sir.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2013



49955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

David Bowie grindcore covers would rule

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

CaptainDooRight
March 1st 2013



28667 Comments


I'll have to give this a listen at some point too. Nice review, pos'd

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

Chortles
March 1st 2013



17927 Comments


cover art is lol but will listen cuz bowie

Digging: Yo La Tengo - Electr-O-Pura

foxblood
March 1st 2013



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album art is 10/10 dude, best cover of the year

sideburndude
March 1st 2013



2782 Comments


Album prob rules but art sucks
I could do that in paint

tommygun
March 1st 2013



24137 Comments


agreed fox album art rules fuck y'all

someguest
March 1st 2013



20393 Comments


Album prob rules but art sucks
I could do that in paint


That's probably the point of it.

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

foxblood
March 1st 2013



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i know great consideration went into the album art, they went through a lot of different covers before deciding on this one. it doesn't fucking matter what you could do in paint, its simplicity doesn't matter, what matters is what the art is meant to convey

LordHamLeg
March 2nd 2013



26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I loved it. I'm not sure yet if it's a "great" album, but it's definitely his best work in a long time. I'd say it's his best since the extremely underrated "Earthling" album, and, with my fanboy goggles admittedly in place, I'd put it only a notch or so below the Berlin Trilogy. Although that might change as the excitement of a new Bowie album wears off.

P.S. I really loved the drum beat from "Five Years" making a creepy appearance at the end of "Feel So Lonely You Could Die."

foxblood
March 2nd 2013



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

earthling is probably his most underrated album

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 2nd 2013



6386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really liking it so far. Obviously not his best work, but it's very enjoyable. Still, the album could have been slimmed down a bit.

Digging: Vessel - Punish, Honey

ViperAces
March 2nd 2013



12382 Comments


wasnt too fond of what ive heard

MrElmo
March 2nd 2013



1950 Comments


Gotta love Bowie, He looks like the G man now

Rubvo
March 2nd 2013



21 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So far i like this. should listen to it more to know if it's really great or not.



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