For the past decade, David Bowie has been content with remaining a mystery. After the release of Reality in 2003, Bowie simply faded away, leaving many fans to wonder what had happened to him and if they’d ever hear from him again. Now is probably the perfect time for a comeback record anyway, but it was still surprising when Bowie unexpectedly announced his new album in January. After what seemed like an eternity of anticipation and leaked songs, we finally have The Next Day, a strangely introspective album that rocks a lot harder than some of us expected Bowie could at this point in his career.
The album contains some of the best songs Bowie has written in years. “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” stands as the best single Bowie has released since “Modern Love,” and the gospel-tinged “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” is—despite its title—truly uplifting. Song for song, The Next Day is stronger than either of Bowie’s early 2000s albums, proving that Bowie still has a bit left in the tank. Even if the album is sonically inconsistent, the lyrical outlook on the album is singular and morbid, talking about murders, corpses and—in case the listener needs things spelled out for them—Bowie’s own brush with mortality. For a man who has for years hidden his true self from the public with an array of pseudonyms and characters, Bowie provides a stunningly honest portrayal of himself on The Next Day. It’s this refreshingly honest portrayal of an enigmatic artist’s fears that makes The Next Day a remarkable album, even if it doesn’t stand among David Bowie’s best work.
– Kevin Korber
Look for the full review of The Next Day, along with reviews of albums by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Richard Thompson, and more, in the next issue of Elmore Magazine, coming soon!