David Bowie

The Next Day (ISO / Columbia)

Phases & Stages

David Bowie

The Next Day (ISO/Columbia)

Whether you think David Bowie a thieving magpie lifting others' ideas or a genius twisting passions to his own vision, there's no denying The Next Day cannibalizes one particular artiste: himself. Reunited with longtime producer Tony Visconti, Bowie revisits creative visions past on his first album in a decade. "Dirty Boys," "I'd Rather Be High," and the title track sound like outtakes from Scary Monsters, while "Dancing Out in Space," "How Does the Grass Grow?", and "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" ride an Eighties vibe. Power chords to "(You Will) Set the World on Fire," the Scott Walker-worshipping art rock of "Heat," and hard folk rock "Valentine's Day" (one foot in Aladdin Sane and the other in Hunky Dory) soak in the Seventies. Bowie even evokes the electro of his much-maligned Earthling with "If You Can See Me," though the beats come from a corporeal drummer instead of samples. Nostalgic ballad "Where Are We Now?" and the album's repurposing of the cover to Heroes make the reconnection to his catalog explicit. His innovative days may be long behind him, but Bowie's melodic gifts remain undiminished and his lyrics appropriately ambiguous. Besides, who better to indulge in Bowie fandom than the Man Who Fell to Earth himself?

***

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