The new David Bowie album “The Next Day” could very well be the greatest album released in 2013. I’ll go one better and say it could very well be one of the best albums released by David Bowie ever. Resorting to the usual music journalism cliché’s for just a moment let me say that a musician this deep into their career shouldn’t still be this revolutionary. Bowie much like Neil Young is one of the few musical survivors from the era when Rock N Roll was about risk as opposed to bottom lines who still makes strong and visionary musical statements. His longevity is testament to what an intense and creative soul he is. The music contained on “The Next Day” is the only example you’ll need in order to prove that statement. Across the course of 14 tracks (and three absolutely delicious bonus tracks) Bowie unfolds new excursions whilst collecting all the dynamics from his history to give us a well-rounded, very disciplined and vital slice of rock n roll.
The first thing that strikes me about “The Next Day” is how much freedom there is coming from the sounds. It is as if Bowie entered the creation of this album with a new sense of enthusiasm after taking time out to re-imagine the magic. This also feels like the beginning of a new prolific era, something about the way this album was released and promoted has my suspicion highly plugged into the idea that Bowie has hatched a new Trilogy and as opposed to the tour circuit he is going to release more music to us. If you listen closely to the album you can hear a new narrative being tied together and even the awesome artwork of the album leads me to believe that there is something deeper going on with Bowie’s return. I could be reading to deeply into it all but that is my feeling because this album plays out like it is part of some bigger unfinished picture.
So what makes this album so great?
It isn’t one song that sells this album because Bowie has made an album in the truest sense. Each song is carefully crafted. Every little subtle piece of sound is placed perfectly and there is never one point where I lose interest. There is sunshine and pop music running through every inch of it but there is also a gloomy darkness that helps give the pop skills a fresh dynamic. Then there are the many different facets of Bowie’s voice that explode from each track. His range and vocal discipline is pure swoon and there is a depth of character to his tone that cannot be mimicked. The way in which Bowie expresses every word with a simple intensity helps the emotion driving each song be communicated on a deep level. You feel every word and even when the lyrics flirt with the bizarre you still somehow relate to it. Bowie writes and arranges music like a classical composer with the purpose of every instrument carefully considered. No one movement or instrumental passage overstays its welcome and it all exists to frame the divine vocal delivery. By the time the album finishes you don’t feel exhausted you feel satisfied and your day carries even more reasons to smile. It inspires you to be disciplined and radical all at the same time and it schools any musician who pretends to understand how great pop music is meant to be presented. Bowie makes the art of music making sound effortless, the sign of a true perfectionist but it isn’t a perfectionism rooted in control there is still room for every artist apart of this album to express themselves honestly. Bowie clearly respects and trusts the people he recorded this music with because you can feel each one of them pay tribute to his vision yet at the same time not losing any of their own personality in the process. This helps it feel even more cohesive as a rock n roll album.
I’ve listened to nothing but this album over the past week. I’ve found that the joy of it all is what keeps me going back. This album is everything I love about David Bowie in one concise album. The fact that this album continues the ever evolving discography of Bowie is proof that the best is yet to come. Whether you’re a casual fan, a passionate devotee or looking for a place to start “The Next Day” is the perfect David Bowie album for you.
Thank You David Bowie for still being the revolutionary alien that you are, it means a lot to hear you still releasing life affirming music in 2013.
10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10
By: Dan Newton
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