After ten years of utter silence, David Bowie had his fans wondering if he would ever return with new material. Now, in true Bowie style, The Next Day is released without warning, showing us a version of the man we haven’t seen before.
Over his decades-long career he’s taken on many identities – Ziggy Stardust being the most notable. But he’s always remained divisive. To fans, he’s the artist you can look to no matter the mood you’re in. He’s a mystery you can never really solve, but it’s incredibly rewarding to try. He’s the guy you struggle to describe to your friends who only know him as Jareth from Labyrinth. And to passive spectators, well, he’s just an oddity. More than anything, The Next Day proves that Bowie is still a creative force in rock-present, not just past.
The Next Day sees Bowie with one foot in the present and one foot kicking his past in the face – the album cover is a vandalized version of Heroes. The first single, “Where Are We Now,” is a somber and uplifting reminiscence of his time in Berlin, where he recorded the beloved 1977 record. And, while that single serves up mellow nostalgia, “The Stars Are Out Tonight” is a biting commentary on the emptiness of celebrity, and sees a dance beat swim through reverb-soaked guitars. “Valentine’s Day” is a buoyant love song in a similar style to “Drive-In Saturday,” “I’d Rather Be High” stands out as an irreverent psychedelic/pop/rock ode to drugs and teenage sex, but “Dancing Out In Space” is, maybe, the most potent blend of old and new. “Dancing” will likely be the third single from The Next Day, and it’s something of a two-faced pop song not unlike “TVC15.” A bouncing dance beat remains constant as dreamy guitar lines turn into an angular chorus. If you’re a fan, I’m likely not telling you anything you don’t already know. And if you’re not, put down Labyrinth and pick up The Next Day. (ISO Records/Columbia, davidbowie.com) Matthew Dyck