David Bowie
The Next Day



by AgainAnd USER (6 Reviews)
August 19th, 2013 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There's a reason why Bowie hides his face in the cover

In a career carved out of reinvention across more than four decades, David Bowie’s new album The Next Day represents the next act. But never before has Bowie wanted to put so much emphasis on his ability to change. This much is apparent from the much-debated album cover, featuring an anything but subtle blotting out of the cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” with an unadorned white square. Still, Bowie’s attempts to rid himself of the baggage of his past have failed spectacularly: most, if not all, of the reviews on the album focus almost more on its place in Bowie’s legacy than the contents of the album itself. So to be fair to Bowie, what’s the music like"

Much like its cover, The Next Day is primarily not a subtle album. This is not to mean that it doesn’t have its finer details, but at its core it is a rock album. There isn’t any overarching concept or obvious, radical musical experimentation on display here. The Next Day is simply about the music, about the songs. And it works.

The album is full of tracks different enough to make it varied but still remain cohesive. There is much to choose from here: Love Is Lost is driven by a merciless synth-line. Dirty Boys and Boss of Me flirt with saxophones, while (You Will) Set The World On Fire is a straightforward guitar attack. There’s the piano ballad Where Are We Now", and the grandiosely orchestrated penultimate track You Feel So Lonely You Could Die. Lyrically the album revolves largely around death, from track names to lyrics such as “My body left to rot in a hollow tree” on the title track. The album isn’t without its lighter moments, such as the sci-fi fantasy of Dancing Out in Space or the sarcasm of I’d Rather Be High. The latter track, seemingly a comment on the recent unrest of the Arab world, contemplates with dry humour: “I’d rather be high/I’d rather be flying/ ... than training these guns on the men in the sand”.

Highlights from the album are the single The Stars (Are Out Tonight), Valentine’s Day, and the album closer Heat. The Stars is a lush rocker, with a distortion-heavy lead guitar that cuts through the nocturnal background of synth and strings. Valentine’s Day is the most emotionally accessible song on the album with simple but emotive guitar work. Heat is a slow and atmospheric closer to the album, with nigh-on apocalyptic drums and a gradual build up of buzzing guitars, impressionistic synthesisers and melodic strings. There is no obvious climax, but instead the soundscape slowly fades away. The listener is left only with Bowie’s cryptic refrain “My father ran the prison.”

While the album doesn’t have enough missteps to feature a simply bad song, there are dubious moments. I’d Rather Be High’s verses are relatively dull compared to the chorus of the riff that the song is built around. Some of the background vocals in How Does the Grass Grow" and Dancing Out in Space tread the line between appropriately whimsy and flat-out silly, not always remaining on the right side of the line. However the worst moment on the album is in the first single: the strings and piano which introduce the chorus of Where Are We Now. The incredibly uninspired and cringe-worthy strings stop the song from being one of the highlights of the album.

So, returning to the original question, what is the music like" It’s varied, enjoyable and plays to Bowie’s strengths. It’s not an album that re-imagines Bowie or his music, despite the declaration of the album cover. But maybe that mysterious cover isn’t about innovation or history. Perhaps it’s an attempt to blot out the artist and emphasise the album itself. And this is certainly the story on The Next Day. It’s a great album not because it’s by David Bowie, but because of the music that’s in it.

Recent reviews by this author
Arcade Fire ReflektorTamikrest Chatma
Manic Street Preachers Rewind The FilmMoney The Shadow of Heaven
Julia Holter Loud City Song
user ratings (702)
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 19th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

My first review! I wrote this four months ago for our school paper. In essence the cover art is used in the beginning and the end to discuss the album as a whole, because the cover is the first thing that struck my eye and made me ask questions - even before getting to the music. So I sought to reconcile the attention grabbing album art with the content of the album in this review.

August 19th 2013



stars are out is the best song ever

August 19th 2013


I love David Bowie's music but I'm pretty sure my favourite thing he's ever done is his scene in Extras. Super long copypasta but deal with it:

David Bowie: [sings] The little fat man who sold his soul...
Andy Millman: The little?
David Bowie: [sings] Little fat man who sold his dream... Chubby little loser...
David Bowie: [turns round and plays piano] Chubby little loser... National joke...
David Bowie: [stops singing] No, not chubby little loser...
David Bowie: [sings] Pathetic little fat man... No one's bloody laughing...
David Bowie: [sings] The clown that no one laughs at... They all just wish he'd die...
David Bowie: [sings] He's so depressed at being useless... The fat man takes his own life...
David Bowie: [stops singing] No, no
David Bowie: [sings] He's so depressed at being hated... Fatty takes his own life...
David Bowie: [stops singing] Fatty? Fatso?
Maggie Jacobs: Fatso, I like fatso
David Bowie: Yeah, let's go with fatso
David Bowie: [sings] Fatso take his own life... He blows his bloated face off
David Bowie: [stops singing] No
David Bowie: [sings] He blows his stupid brains out
Linda: But the twat'd probabably miss!
David Bowie: [stops singing] Yes, Linda, I like that!
Andy Millman: Yes, so do I. It's brilliant Linda.
David Bowie: [sings] He sold his soul for a shot at fame... Catchprase and wig and the jokes are lame...
David Bowie: [sings] He's got no style, he's got no grace... He's banal and facile... He's a fat waste of space...
David Bowie: [stops singing] Yeah, yeah. Everybody sing that last line. One, two, three...
David Bowie: [sings] He's banal and facile... He's a fat waste of space... See his pug-nosed face... pug, pug, pug, pug
David Bowie: [stops singing] Again!
David Bowie: [sings] See his pug-nose face... pug, pug, pug, pug. The little fat man with the pug-nosed face... Yeah! pug, pug, pug, pug. Little fat man... pug-nosed face... pug, pug, pug, pug...

August 19th 2013



August 19th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

This is the only non-4.0 review for this. Blazin' trails here

Great review, though

August 19th 2013


yea good read nice work pos

August 19th 2013


Great review! A literary masterpiece!

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy