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Q - la critique de The Next Day

 
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MessagePosté le: Sam 23 Fév - 10:15 (2013)    Sujet du message: Q - la critique de The Next Day Répondre en citant






SPEED OF LIFE
If you thought The Dame was at death's door, you couldn't be more wrong.

David Bowie
The Next Day
ISO/RCA
OUT 11 MARCH


Let's not get overexcited. There is precedent for the astonishing rebirth which David Bowie pulled off on 8 January, but you have to go back about 1980 years to find it. The last charismatic leader to be declared dead – not just deceased but diminished, a figure from a past time – at least had the decency to promise his fanbase that he intended to roll away the stone and rejoin them at some point. But when Bowie disappeared, he really disappeared.

Heart attacks and far-flung lollipop sticks in the eye notwithstanding, it is as if he had expended so much life energy pushing his way into the 21st century that there was none left when he got here. His absence became the kind of presence – the phantom Dame of modern New York scurrying from the paparazzi, collar up and shades on like the supernaturally ageing revenant he played in The Hunger in 1983.

Ever the student of theatre, Bowie had already presented himself as a Garbo/Dietrich figure on the cover of Hunky Dory back in 1971. Now he fully, perhaps unwillingly, entered the role. His stature grew the less we saw of him and so did the rumours. On 7 January it was equally possible to believe that Bowie was at death's door (heart, cancer, take your pick), or in a contented retirement enforced by an overprotective Iman. Or creatively burnt out and whiling away his time on daytime SpongeBob SquarePants marathons with his young daughter. Move forward 24 hours and he was once again the axis mundi of rock and roll. What difference a day makes.

The title of this 24th studio LP implies with hilarious audacity, that all his other work was a kind of preamble and that Bowie, 66, is now ready for his second wind. This is not as ridiculous a notion as it sounds. the Next Day shows up his previous "return to form" for what they were, ie, perfectly acceptable mid-range David Bowie albums but nothing for Aladdin Sane to worry about. This one is of a different order entirely.

To say that it's his best since (and including) Let's Dance in 1983 is faint praise considering that Bowie followed that record with eight years of travesty followed by a decade of painful self-reconstruction. Start arguing for its merits as an equal to Low or a "Heroes" and you're down to the quantum level of Dameology – those times can't be repeated. But they can be reassessed. On the Next Day David Bowie reopens his own personal Pandora's Box and revels in the contents.

From the very first song, the title track, it's immediately apparent that the teaser single Where Are We Now? was something of a feint (if that melancholy, meditative song made you think that Bowie's voice is shot, it very much isn't). The Next Day is a loud, thrilling steamrolleringly confident rock and roll album full of noise, energy and words that – if as cryptic as ever they were – sound like they desperately need to be sung.

It is both familiar and new: its dominant characteristics are that crushed, struggling Lodger guitar sound and the multi-tracked, Valkyrie-like "Bowie Choir" that promised impending doom and bad news from afar throughout the Berlin records. Soothing keyboards are few and far between, the dexterous Mike Garson absent entirely. It's a headbanging art-rock guitar album with Gerry Leonard and, to a lesser extent, old comrade Earl Slick to the fore. It doesn't sound like the work of a fragile man who's constantly wondering where his digitalis pills are at all. It sounds vividly, ragingly alive. The first chorus you hear goes like this: "Here I am/Not quite dying."

The song The Next Day appears to be an angry warning/recrimination about the soul-sapping properties of fame set to a pounding, gorgeously moronic beat. It gives way to the louche, sax-driven Scary Monsters-style ruptured funk of Dirty Boys, then The Stars (Are Out Tonight), a sleek jet-age construction in which Bowie looks at celebrity from within and without – as he's now able.

Where Are We Now? turns up as a balm on track five, a chance to rest in memory instead of chasing and wrestling with it. There's full-on '70s glam swagger on Valentine's Day and the tragic tropes of Drive-In Saturday on penultimate song You Feel So Lonely You Could Die. But Bowie operates an equal-opportunities policy towards his past – he's not just interested in the critically sanctioned parts.

If You Can See Me revisits his less-loved '90s styles, and though quasi-junglist breakbeats threaten to appear, the song just sweeps you away, a squall of jazz scales depositing you in New York traffic. On the surprisingly joyful and even comical Dancing Out In Space he rescues that nadir of Bowiedom, the Tonight/Never Let Me Down '80s, with a crash team of fake Robert Fripp guitars and Lust For Life drums. It sounds like Bowie doing Flight Of The Conchords doing their affectionate Dame tribute Bowie In Space, which has to be a good thing. On occasion it seems he's finally worked out how to make a good Tin Machine song. A couple of others (I'd Rather Be High and the admittedly inessential Boss of Me) suggest that Bowie has spent some of his recuperative decade getting to grips with Blur.

Above all The Next Day feels like a dam bursting. This long album of short songs is packed with evidence that Bowie has spent his supposedly indolent decade doing the hardest work of all. He's been thinking, about himself and the world his music made. Some of these songs are harsh diagnostics of modern life, others seemingly address friends and adversaries from the past (who is the star of (You Will) Set The World On Fire, and why does the song take place at "midnight in the Village"?). Such is Bowie and producer Visconti's creative profligacy that they relegate one diamond of a song – I'll Take You There, with it's monstrous regiment of howling guitars – to a bonus second CD when it could have easily led the album as a single.

It doesn't mater. You get the strong sense that there is plenty more where this came from. David Bowie is alive. Who'd have thought it? *****

ANDREW HARRISON

Download: The Next Day | The Stars are Out Tonight | How does the Grass Grow?

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MessagePosté le: Sam 23 Fév - 10:15 (2013)    Sujet du message: Publicité

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