EAGERLY AWAITED REVIEWS OF THE NEXT DAY,
BOWIE’S 30TH STUDIO ALBUM, DUE ON MARCH 11
➢ An absolute wonder that’s bold and baffling, writes Neil McCormick in the Daily Telegraph, Feb 25:
“ It is an enormous pleasure to report that the new David Bowie album is an absolute wonder: urgent, sharp-edged, bold, beautiful and baffling, an intellectually stimulating, emotionally charged, musically jagged, electric bolt through his own mythos and the mixed-up, celebrity-obsessed, war-torn world of the 21st century.
“ Musically, it is stripped and to the point, painted in the primal colours of rock: hard drums, fluid bass, fizzing guitars, shaded by splashes of keyboard and dirty rasps of horns. The 14 songs are short and spiky, often contrasting that kind of patent Bowie one-note declarative drawl with sweet bursts of melodic escape that hit you like a sugar rush. Bowie’s return from a decade’s absence feels very present, although full of sneaky backward glances…” / Continued at Telegraph online
➢ Despite the lyrical density, the album’s success rests on simple pleasures, writes Alexis Petridis at Guardian online today
“ The Next Day offers what you might call an index of Bowiean obsessions… The mutual respect between Bowie and Scott Walker is well-documented – an effusive 50th birthday tribute from the elusive former Scott Engel famously reduced Bowie to tears live on Radio 1 – and it’s Walker’s latterday work that much of The Next Day resembles, at least in that the lyrics are so dense and allusive you occasionally feel in need of a set of York Notes to get through them.
“ Producer Tony Visconti has suggested that The Next Day is of a piece with 1979’s Lodger and, as on that record, Bowie spends a lot of The Next Day experimenting with his vocal delivery, offering, among other things, a peculiar nasal drone on the title track and a doomy, tortured lowing that recalls Walker – him again – on the closing Heat… [This is] an album that’s thought-provoking, strange and filled with great songs… ” / Continued at Guardian online
➢ In the FT, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney perceives an album thick with visions of ageing, death and violence
“ Bowie’s vague but vital sense of terror is one of the most provoking and enigmatic aspects of his first album in 10 years… The visions of ageing, death and violence that run through the album… climax in You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, an unsettling kiss-off to a would-be suicide (I can see you as a corpse hanging from a beam), incongruously played as a ballad. Bowie’s idea of terror, an existential dread, follows Burroughs’ “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork” – a sentiment that Bowie rephrased in his Queen duet Under Pressure: It’s the terror of knowing/ What this world is about. ” / Continued at FT.com
➢ More mystery than any other living singer,
asserts Chris Roberts at the Quietus:
“ Fortunately, [the album]’s great. I mean: it’s not just good, it’s great. No wild pioneering sonic experiments here: it’s primarily a “rock” album with plentiful twists, with the closest sibling being Scary Monsters… I sometimes found myself pining for more ballads or tangents to break up the album’s mid-section run of half a dozen roaring thumpers. Yet it starts with six mercurial wonders that have you grinning because he’s pulled this comeback thing off big-time. They tease, tumble and twirl, referencing his past in flashes but refusing to relinquish their own personalities and identities. Moreover, it closes with two mind-blowing, show-stopping, grandstanding epics: one as baroque as Rock And Roll Suicide ONLY MORE SO; one as frazzled and sinister and ticking as Scott Walker’s (ok, The Walker Brothers’) The Electrician.
“ So more than half the album is fantastic, and the rest is very, very strong… Every Bowie biography from now on is going to have a lot more cod psychology to do. And even after all these years, all these artistic statements, we don’t know what’s a confession and what’s a character. The interface between the two (substance and style seduce each other, Miller and Monroe in one misfit) affords Bowie more mystery than any other living singer, still… ” / Continued online at Thequietus
➢ In the NME dated March 2, Emily Mackay says the in-your-face pace of The Next Day rarely slackens
“ It’s the sheer vibrancy of the new album that strikes you hardest. In contrast to Outside or Earthling, there’s no sense that it’s the need for another radical reinvention that has pulled Bowie back to music-making. These songs feel like stories that insisted on being told, bright and aggressive and poppy. The title track sets the tone. A cocky strut seething with rage… it boils with lust, paranoia and megalomania… This album is about songcraft… it absorbs his past and moves on, hungry for more… ” / Continued in the NME, along with an exclusive five-pager on the making of the album
➢ Bowie is in masterful voice and his band are at full throttle,
says Simon Price in the Independent, March 3:
“ The strangely artless artwork (the “Heroes” cover blanked out with a white square and the title in pseudo-Helvetica). The teaser single Where Are We Now?, wherein this Englishman in New York reminisced about old friends and Old Europe. Now it’s here, and it’s clear: The Next Day’s primary concern is the delicious cruelty with which the past haunts the present. Just walking the dead, indeed.
“ This album is not David Bowie’s first overtly nostalgic work, the first to reference his own career, nor the first to feature meditations on aging, but it repeats those tricks with immense style. On Love Is Lost, he brutally commands you to “say goodbye to the thrills of life … wave goodbye to the life without pain”. On How Does The Grass Grow?, amid Fifties ya-ya-ya-yas and snatches of Bond theme, he daydreams If the clocks could go backwards, then the girls would fill with blood and the grass would be green… ” / Continued at Independent online
➢ We’re told Bowie made his first album in 10 years because “today he definitely has something to say”. In the Huffington Post (March 3) Michael Hogan says it’s up to us to ask, What is he trying to say?
“ You get the sense, from the music but also from the video [for The Stars Are Out Tonight] with Tilda Swinton, that Bowie has ambivalent feelings about his distance from the cultural tide. There was a time when he defined it, followed by a long period when he tried but perhaps failed to steer it in more esoteric directions; now all he can do is remind us how much he did to shape it – and impart a few lessons to those travelling in his wake.
“ Like so many ageing artists before him, it seems, Bowie has learned the Big Lesson: no matter how much money you make, how many sex partners you corral, or even how many masterpieces you produce, we’re all riding a one-way conveyor belt into the furnace of oblivion. Does that mean everything we’ve done is meaningless? Not really, Bowie seems to suggest on Where Are We Now?, As long as there’s sun / as long as there’s rain / as long as there’s fire / as long as there’s me / as long as there’s you ”. / Continued at Huffington Post
➢ The Stars single reviewed: Bowie’s psychodrama mocks the rockiness of godliness
➢ Riddle of the train Bowie could not have taken in
Where Are We Now?
➢ 2013, The Bowiesconti proxy has spoken – Shapersofthe80s translates revelations from the Visconti interview
➢ 2013, Bowie officially not “devastated” as fab retrospective show goes ahead at the V&A