It seems to be the case that when a musician hits a certain age, the relevancy of the artist drops. I’m a prime example of someone who categorizes a musician as ‘not important’ once they seem that they’re out of the loop. Many musicians have the comeback curse that takes control once a musician hits around mid 50’s. Although Springsteen’s 2012 album was highly praised, I felt it was just a terrible ride. The same could be said to any early 2000 Bowie albums. Oddly enough, the 66 year old monster musician is back with another shot.
The Next Day to me seems like a swan song. With his cracky vocals and change of sound compared to his recent albums, Bowie is going for one last grand slam. While this is completely untrue because there’s already works for another album, the songs do convey a ‘grand finale’ feel. The rock opera track listing is even more intense than his masterpiece Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. I would even go out on a limb and say it has more emotion. Bowie has really attempted to create an atmosphere in his music. He wants the themes of the music to stand tall on every note played by these talented musicians.
Tracks like, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and “Valentine’s Day” will please any old Bowie fan and even draw in new ones. What this album does so well is blend the 14 tracks together as one, but still lets you hear them individually and enjoy them just as much. While this has nothing to do with the musicianship, it does help with singles and the sales of the album. The Next Day continuously touches on old Bowie themes. Death, Life, Love, Isolation, and childhood are popular ones here. It’s what made Bowie so popular with a certain crowd with teenagers for over 40 years.
His ability to create catchy and groovy tunes without killing his persona is a question among music executives. We have to face it, Bowie is a brand. Much like Unknown Pleasures will be worn on teenage girls shirts and the Warhol banana isn’t solely the cover of The Velvet Underground, Bowie is a money maker. What separates him is that he still kicks ass. I mean major ass. Listen to the track “Boss of Me” and you’ll get the idea. He’s not old, but he’s still older than most ass kickers. The song isn’t about him, but lyrically to still sing about love this way is amazing. The next track, “Dancing Out in Space”, is a throwback to his acclaimed Station To Station. It’s a groovy hit that keeps the classic fans calm.
I can’t believe I’ve gone this far without saying it, but I must mention the cover at one point or another. While everyone has a different take, I think it’s supposed to be about Bowie’s career as a whole. I might be hitting a homer or missing a pop fly, but every time I listen to his albums, I always say, “This is his best!” His career as a whole is magnificent, and this album adds to it. His more recent work has been a failure to touch on that classic magic, but even with the cover it shows that David is not messing around this time. Every track plays like a Bowie album to me. I say, “This one is my favourite!” Every time the next song comes on. That’s how you know it’s great.
Check out a great song from the album here: