Bowie’s alive and kicking on ‘The Next Day’
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 01:03
For decades, new-wave/punk rock musical genius David Bowie has been notorious for wild, quirky and expressive production. Possibly one of the hottest icons of the alternative rock genre in the 70s and 80s, Bowie is known for his provocative and occasionally wacky song material and melodies, which always seem to fuse perfectly. Following a 10-year studio break, he is back in the saddle with an undoubtedly new flavor in “The Next Day.” I am unsure whether he’s just following the neo-alternative trend in scratchy musical disarray or perhaps simply experimenting on his own, but the overall product definitely keeps listeners alert and awake.
The title track comes first, bursting with a catchy quality and a lot of angst, although the sentiment is by no means adolescent. Bowie’s vocal quality has changed minimally, sounding as rocker-ish as it was in 1977, but the years in passing are evident. The melody, a collection of stomp-like drums and resonating, whiny electric guitars, is above average. The lyrics, however, are another story. David Bowie is weird; that is no secret. But on this one, he’s thrown even the most well-versed of song analysts for a curve, evolving from “listen to the whores he tells her…he fashions paper sculptures of them” to “here I am not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree; its branches throwing shadows on the gallows for me.” Let us conclude that it is a “Bowie thing.”
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” displays a return to Bowie’s roots. In a metaphoric conversation about galactic beings, he relates humans to stars, highlighting their come-and-go, yet infinite nature. A personal favorite off the EP, this one is classic Bowie: a little more Bob Dylan and a little less Black Keys.
“Where Are We Now” is inarguably the masterpiece song of the collection. Having been out for several months, the soothingly introspective single has the coolest vibe (as well as the coolest corresponding video). Don’t be fooled by the song’s ultra-slow development; Bowie’s musical quality shines through all aspects here.
The album takes a turn for “trippy”-ness on “I’d Rather Be High,” a fairly self-explanatory tune. “I’d rather be high, I’d rather be fly,” Bowie reveals, later pointing out the wastefulness of anything military-related. Overall, it’s a pleasantly pacifistic song.
Although jam-packed with energy, Bowie’s latest work, “The Next Day,” does not always quite balance out the calm and “crazy.” Listeners must take the EP, conceptually, with a grain of salt. A melting pot of sounds and words, there is still no denying the ever-diverse song compilation. All praise and admiration goes to the 66-year-old who still rocks.