Album review: David Bowie’s “The Next Day”

November 14, 2013

I’ve always been a little intimidated by David Bowie. His discography is massive. His reputation is legendary. His influence is immeasurable. So, where do you start when you want to listen to him?
Like most people, I started with the Ziggy Stardust album. Beyond that, though, I was finding it hard to connect to his music. I bought Aladin Sane because Tori Amos said she liked it. I also bought Hunky Dory and Heathen, and enjoyed both. I even had a brief obsession with Earthling. But, honestly, nothing stuck like Ziggy did. I eventually sold all of those records.
Enter The Next Day. An album that was a surprise to many people, because nobody heard from Bowie for nearly 10 years.
Here’s the thing with me and Bowie – an album might take 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 listens before I really dig it. The Next Day was released in March, and I’m JUST now understanding it and loving it.
What sparked this new interest? The special edition.

Unboxing The Next Day Extra from Columbia Records on Vimeo.

It’s beautiful. I’m a sucker for packaging, so I immediately was drawn to the layout, the fonts, the simplicity of packaging something that’s so massive.
I gave the album a deeper listen, and I now LOVE it.
Track 2, “Dirty Boys,” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on some of his earlier material. It’s funky and tight. And it feels like a song that only he could do.
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is truly a gem of a song – the melody is ridiculously catchy. I swear the song would be a hit in another era. But we all know that radio won’t touch an artists who is over the age of 25, much less an artist who is 66.

Even the slow burner “Where Are We Now?” seems like a highlight now. (What a weird choice for a single, by the way). Other highlights? “If You Can See Me,” “Boss of Me” and “Heat.” The EP included with the special edition is pretty damn perfect, especially “God Bless the Girl,” which has to make a comprehensive greatest hits collection one day.
The only stinkers? “Valentine’s Day” and “Born in a UFO.” ick.
Great album overall, though. It will make my “favorite albums of 2013” list, for sure.