Bowie’s “The Next Day” is a Mixed Bag of Quality

The Next Day is David Bowies first release in over ten years.

The Next Day is David Bowie’s first release in over ten years.

Pat Connell

The Next Day is David Bowie's first release in over ten years.
The Next Day is David Bowie’s first release in over ten years.

David Bowie is 66 years old now; his best years are no doubt behind him, and his previous record of new material, 2003’s Reality, came out 10 years ago. Listeners of his newest album, The Next Day, should keep this idea of his agedness in mind. With expectations lowered, hearing Bowie’s newest LP could really be fulfilling, and not only that, but it is actually worthwhile at many points.

The album starts out with the title track, a very thumping rock song. This is one of the better songs on the album, as Bowie charges through it, seemingly barking out a random assortment of words, but it doesn’t make the listener move their  body in rhythm, which it feels like it is meant to do. During the chorus of the song, there is also the addition of some sort of instrument that produces a squishing noise that grows to be obnoxious over time.

After “The Next Day” is “Dirty Boys,” and this track has a fitting title. It is filled with drawn out drum kicks; sleazy, distorted guitars; and ominous, masked vocals– all of which help to concoct a haunting thrill of a song. Immediately brought to mind is the Stooges’ Fun House from 1970. If David Bowie, in his 60’s, can master the Stooges better than themselves at that age, it just goes to show that not only  can he be an expert musical chameleon, but he also continues to be.

When the album was first announced earlier this year on Bowie’s birthday, the single “Where Are We Now?” was released to give the album a preview, although this the only ballad song on Next Day. This is quite the quaint song, as Bowie sings introspective words about where the world has come as a society and where we are headed. It is quite the thought provoker, but the overall composition of the song is somewhat lackluster. The strength of the song lies within its story telling lyrics, and they deliver.

The other single on the album that was released was “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).” This is arguably the best track on the LP. This song sounds pretty sonorous with its main guitar lick floating out into space during the verses, and for the choruses, every thing becomes ethereal. Bowie elicits the feelings of innocent nighttime romance as he sings to the heavens, and he uses the crunch of his guitarist’s power chords just as well as “The Next Day” on this song. It also proves that age has not diminished his ability as a producer with its large and symphonic, but not overbearing, sound.

For the fans of his, The Next Day will go great in any David Bowie collection, but– understandably– his style may not be for everyone. This does not take away from the quality of his music, however, and if people are on the fence about delving into this LP, they should listen to the aforementioned songs. They give a wide array to just how skilled he is in playing a multitude of genres.