Note: there are several different versions of the album available; the CD I listened to was the "Deluxe Edition" which has 3 bonus tracks. This deluxe edition was superseded 6 months later with the release of a 3 disc collector's edition titled The Next Day Extra (yes, that made me a little bitter).
There's old wave, there's new wave, and there's David Bowie.
In March, 2013, David Bowie released his first album of new material in ten years. And music junkies like me, desperate for quality new rock music, rejoiced. It's not a career defining epic (how many of those can one man possibly have, after all?), but it's good enough and definitely holds it own as a rock album. Pairing again with his longtime producer Tony Visconti, the music sounds like an edgy, updated version of classic '70s Bowie, if that makes any sense. Bowie is never easy to figure out and this album is no exception, but the journey towards understanding is more comfortable than some of his past albums. These songs aren't exactly commercial, especially in today's market, but they're bold, to the point, full of confidence and energy, and nostalgic without being sad. As Visconti puts it:
I think the material on this album is extremely strong and beautiful, and if people are looking for classic Bowie they'll find it on this album, if they're looking for innovative Bowie, new directions, they're going to find that on this album too."Once again, Bowie writes good songs and brings together innovative, like-minded musicians and lets them do their thing. Metacritic has this album rated at 81, which may be slightly high, but I can't really fault the critics for being so excited over new Bowie that reverence for the man influenced their reviews. It certainly influenced this one. I like it and, since I'm a middle-age male, I think I was supposed to. Best listened to on a cold autumn or winter day while driving around.
On a related note, I absolutely love the cover art. So simple, yet effective. Here's how graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook describes his work:
Normally using an image from the past means, 'recycle' or 'greatest hits' but here we are referring to the title The Next Day. The Heroes cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is 'of the moment', forgetting or obliterating the past.Not surprisingly, Bowie has a flair for the dramatic, and this release - the art design, the music, the secretive recording sessions, the sudden release - is nothing if not dramatic.
However, we all know... we cannot break free from the past. When you are creative... it seeps out in every new mark you make (particularly in the case of an artist like Bowie)... People will judge you always in relation to your history.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #2
Tracks: My picks include the title track, Love Is Lost, Where Are We Now?, I'd Rather Be High, and How Does The Grass Grow?. Don't skip.
Bonus tracks: More of the same and that's a good thing. There's even a throwback to instrumental tracks from the Berlin trilogy in the song titled Plan.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None
Previously revisited for the blog:
Let's Dance (1983)