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|Posté le: Mer 27 Fév - 13:50 (2013) Sujet du message: David Bowie’s The Next Day is an evocative delight
David Bowie’s The Next Day is an evocative delight
Wednesday 27 Feb 2013 1:42 am
There’s a rather old-fashioned ‘stop the press’ charm to David Bowie’s latest music releases; since his sudden January 2013 single Where Are We Now?, it’s been like some gentlemanly assault on the digital age. Certainly, it’s hard to think of another record that has sparked quite as much immediate clamour as Bowie’s 24th studio album, The Next Day – even before the March 1 streaming prior to its official mid-March release.
Yet Bowie’s music isn’t some off-the-cuff noodling; according to veteran producer Tony Visconti (who has been doing many of the interviews that Bowie now declines), The Next Day was gradually crafted over a couple of years. Bowie, now 66, has hardly been a creative recluse, yet his ‘90s/’00s works weren’t met with this intensity of reverence. The Next Day does feel like a landmark record, though; it’s an enigmatic, gripping and snappy collection that seems to have struck a particular chord with rock blokes of a certain age, but also entices new generations of fans. It also ties in neatly with the hotly anticipated Bowie exhibition at London’s V&A Museum.
For all The Next Day’s mystery, there is a wry precision to the artwork (which ‘hijacks’ the cover for Bowie’s 1977 LP Heroes) and the sleevenotes, which meticulously detail song specs including running time. The opening title track (‘Time taken: Three minutes twenty six seconds’) surges with a raucous, glammy energy; Bowie’s voice has always been malleable but unmistakeable. He’s mainly recorded with long-time collaborators here, and while the new songs reference various old themes, there’s no foray into trendy new genres. In fact, part of the album’s beauty is how unforced it all sounds, from the funky, louche sax and bluesy growl of Dirty Boys to the bombastic rhythms of If You Can See Me.
There’s a fixation with mortality throughout, with Bowie addressing the anxiety of youth for both sexes as much as the onset of old age on numbers including Love Is Lost and I’d Rather Be High. The tone is vivacious as well as reflective. The Berlin-era nostalgia of original comeback single, Where Are We Now?, sounds even more plaintive and intriguing in the midst of this track-listing. The latest single, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), is Bowie at his suave, stately and supremely catchy best; again, this track went instantly viral, with an androgynous arthouse-style video co-starring Tilda Swinton and Norwegian model Iselin Steiro.
Bowie retains his knack for blending sweet melodies with sinister lyrics; Valentine’s Day features brilliant guitar work from Earl Slick, and portrays a bitter-sweetheart with ‘tiny face… scrawny hand… icy heart’. He tears through stream-of-consciousness (with a nod to ‘60s anthem Apache), and he’s at his most cryptic on You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, which seems to depict some kind of urban vigilante fantasy or depressive deathwish.
For most artists, that refusal to fill in the gaps might be infuriating; with Bowie, the lyrics are such an evocative delight (the latter track has ‘Buildings crammed with people/ Landscape filled with wrath’) that it’s part of the allure.
The final track, Heat, is both avant-garde and catchy; it starts out sounding like country music in a space vacuum before sleek strings rise from the soundscape. And that’s before you get to the bonus tracks on the ‘special edition’ (very digital age): the rockabilly undertow of So She; the instrumental Plan; the American dream of I’ll Take You There.
Bowie has always been comfortable with his own ch-ch-ch-changes; now he’s taking in a changing world, too. He’s a pop icon with no intention of being a period piece.