Review Summary: A Hero's Welcome.
A legend in his own right, David Bowie has often done things on his own terms. His early 1970s success launched him into a career that has crossed many genres and many decades. However in the past years, Bowie has been out of touch with music since his less than impressive 2003 album, Reality. Since then, the sixty-six year old has been carefully composing and crafting his first album in ten years, The Next Day.
The record’s cover says a lot about the music inside it. The cover itself is Bowie’s own 1977 album Heroes, with the album name scratched out, and the singer’s face covered in a white box with The Next Day transcribed upon it. An interesting choice for many it is an appropriate one as the album communicates the idea of progression and new ideas, two traits that are very relevant in The Next Day.
The album starts off with a literal bang and keeps rocking for another 53 minutes. One of Bowie’s longer LPs in his discography, the record never fully slows down, though it hits some mid-tempo tracks that allow the listener to take a breather. With a total of 14 tracks, the album can drag on a tad. The latter half of the album is somewhat weaker but Bowie ends it off with emotional ballads and even a hard-rocker. The Next Day, Love is Lost, Valentine’s Day and You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, are particularly emotional and well written. Valentine’s Day brings Bowie back to the sounds of the Berlin Trilogy days of the late 1970s.
The album itself is a pleasant surprise in many facets. Bowie’s voice is surprisingly intact and he rarely seems to strain to hit notes. The complexity and delivery of each track is another surprise. Bowie’s 90s albums have really lacked this intensity and drive that The Next Day overflows with. ¬¬The album gives off an aura of raw intensity that has rarely been seen by Bowie since his earlier entries to his discography. It almost seems like he has been storing these emotions and melodies for the past ten years and with this album, he showcases them to the world. Bowie attains this through his clever lyrics, his progressive presentation, and his terrific musicianship with the help of famous session musicians such as Tony Levin and producer Tony Visconti.
Though The Next Day may be heralded as a comeback album for the rock musician, a more accurate description would be an album that cements Bowie’s status as a true legend of music past, present and future.