A celebration of the LP, the long-player, the album music format. Reviews, recommendations and discussion.
Ah, a day I, along with most other people, thought would never come…..a new David Bowie album.
I have spent the last couple of weeks trying not to get too excited just in case the new record was rather more ‘Tonight’ than ‘Station To Station’ but when you have waited 10 long years for something new from one of the greatest rock stars ever you can’t help but be a little over eager.
There has been the usual lazy comments of it being a return to form and his best album for years…..I won’t get into a rant about this as I think I covered just why statements such as these are nonsense in my “It’s The Best Thing Since…..Blah Blah Blah” post.
The record has of course been available to listen to on iTunes since last week but I become a bit precious when it comes to new albums by my favourites, I have to wait till I have the physical copy in my hand so I can listen to it comfortably, alone, with no distractions. Sitting at my computer with small earphones on somehow just doesn’t cut it.
However I preordered my copy from a wonderful shop here in London and lo and behold if it didn’t arrive four days early on Thursday. So deviating slightly from the usual review format let’s have a little track by track saunter through this new Bowie treat:
The Next Day
I heard lots of talk before this album was released about how it was looking back to the Berlin albums. I should probably whisper this bit but……….it’s not my favourite Bowie era, though Lodger is pretty much a masterpiece. However this is David Bowie and all his phases have some amazing moments. This opening track does indeed sound very much like late 70’s Bowie, think ‘Beauty And The Beast’ from “Heroes”. This is a great start, and shows that, contrary to some rumours from the last few years Bowie is definitely “…not quite dying”.
A slinking, creaking slightly sleazy sounding track. It feels like you should be listening to it in some late night, smoky jazz club. Sinister lounge lizard Bowie.
The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
Second single from the album, accompanied by the superb Tilda Swinton featuring video. On first listen I didn’t love it but it’s very much a grower. Nice pop rock, maybe not the most cutting edge or forward thinking piece of music he has ever made but it’s probably the song you’ll find yourself humming later in the day.
Love Is Lost
Possibly my favourite track on the record. A cold industrial sounding piece which I think is amongst his best songs. Again the Berlin influence is clear, it is also reminiscent of Outside from 1995 but there is also something definitely not from the 1970’s or the 1990’s. If this is the sound of Bowie in the 2010’s then it could be a good decade.
Where Are We Now?
The song that surprised us all at the beginning of the year. A beautiful ballad which shows a new side to Bowie’s voice.
Glam Bowie is alive and kicking on track six. An excellent pop song which even includes a few sha-la-la-la’s. I guarantee when you listen to this song you’ll be picturing Bowie with his arm draped round the shoulder of Mick Ronson…….ahh, if only.
If You Can See Me
Another track that wouldn’t sound out of place on Outside. I can imagine this will be a track some people won’t like that much, it’s incessant, loud and doesn’t have an easy structure…..I love it.
I’d Rather Be High
Bowie goes Baggy. Maybe not the strongest point of the album, but a nice piece of swirling psychedelic pop. Lyrically it falls a little short for me but it certainly won’t have you reaching for the skip button.
Boss Of Me
On a record that is 14 tracks long there is probably going to be one that doesn’t make much of an impression and pretty much passes you by……
Dancing Out In Space
It seems this album draws from all parts of Bowie’s back catalogue and drags it into 2013. Here he seems to have gone back to the 80’s (no, come back) and gone for some guitar driven pop, albeit in a distorted, less glossy way.
How Does The Grass Grow?
Paranoid, raucous, monotonous (in a good way). It’s very hard to describe this song. Then just when you think you’ve got it, halfway through another song seems to cut in for a few bars. Oh I don’t know, all I can be certain about is that I like it. You’ll just have to listen to it yourself.
(You Will) Set The World On Fire
Rock, with a capital R…..and possibly even a capital O as well. Thumping drums, guitars which are probably being referred to as axes. At live shows this where everyone would start jumping up and down.
You Feel So Lonely You Could Die
Beautiful, melancholic ballad. Strings lend it grandeur. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Would love to hear David sing this with just an acoustic guitar.
It’s my personal option that David Bowie has one of the greatest voices in the history of popular music. If you need convincing of this listen to this closing track. Its just the way I think a closing track should sound, epic and atmospheric.
I’ve only had this record for a few days but it is already obvious this is a very, very strong David Bowie album. All the pre-release anxiety about whether it would be any good or whether it would have been better if The Dame had stayed in retirement has come to nothing.
Nothing would fill me with more joy than if this return were the start of a new era of Bowie releases however if it is a one off then it is an extremely fitting swansong.
Thanks for the review. I imagine you enjoyed it?
Very much, it’s a very high quality record, up there with his best. You’ll have to let me know what you think when you’ve heard it.
I’ll pick it up soon! Thanks! Oh and I’ve been meaning to ask… or tell… anyhow, since you like Bowie and have ventured into motown a little bit, you should check out (if you haven’t yet) Diana Ross’ self titled “Diana” which is produced by the same producer Nile Rodgers of “Let’s Dance”. You might like the feel of it and it has some good hits on it too. Another plus it that it has a sexy cover, so really it’s a win win.