25. David Bowie - The Next Day
About a year ago, you would have asked a random Bowie fan and he would have told you that their idol's career was over. It had been almost a decade since the release of his latest album, Reality
, but then from one day to the other, we get a new single and the announcement of a 24th record coming out soon. David Bowie has always been part of my family's values (my mother used to be a die hard fan), so the news got me excited immediately. Apparently, the whole new album had been recorded in tight secrecy. The new song was called "Where Are We Now?": a beautiful introspective ballad led by Bowie's piano. Upon hearing it, I wasn't so sure about The Next Day
. Was it going to be softer and less daring, since the artist was approaching his 70's?
Then I saw the cover and I was reassured. It wasn't pretty: the cover of his cult album "Heroes"
was scorned, the title scratched off and the picture covered by a big white square and the new title - some kind of hymn to erasing and disregarding the past. Okay, he sure hadn't lost his taste for provocation.
Not long after that, I heard the second single on the radio; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)". It turned out to be my favourite song off the record: it was so beautifully haunting and emotional! At this point, I couldn't wait to hear the whole thing, and when I did, I wasn't disappointed at all.
The Next Day
starts off very strongly with a heavy, solid groove and dark lyrics, which both smell like nothing but classic David Bowie. It set the mood for what is following: it's simply an album that rocks. Then follows one of the best tracks. "Dirty Boys" is a monster of saxophone driven dissonant post-punk enhanced by one of the main highlights of the album: the razor sharp guitar sound, that is often complemented by cleaner aerial melodies. The other striking songs are the also rocking "How Does the Grass Grow" and "(You Will) Set the World on Fire" and the three most sentimental ones: "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", "Love Is Lost" and "Valentine's Day". The latter ending with goosebumps-inducing guitar leads and shouts. Except for the introspective lead single, the lyrics of each song tell the tale of a character dealing with his or her personal problems in a different part of history. For example, "I'd Rather Be High" is about a soldier in World War II.
In short, David Bowie brilliantly defied my expectations, showing that he wasn't tired at all; his voice is a bit lower than it used to be, but it still sounds great, and most of all, the songs, the riffs and the lyrics are, with no exception, memorable. This is definitely going to be one of the albums that the future generations are going to get into when starting to discover the artistic genius that is David Bowie.
The Stars (Are Out Tonight)