Much like the surprise of David Bowie releasing a new album after ten years of quiet retirement, today iTunes surprised us all by live streaming The Next Day, giving the world a very special sneak preview. Here are my thoughts after a first listen.
1. “The Next Day” (3:51) Dance rock from the master, the title tune gives a twisted positive message through story, typical of Bowie. This is reminiscent of his late eighties to me, sort of “Dancing with the Big Boys” vibe. A proper title track, and even better for a single, if they do such things these days.
2. “Dirty Boys” (2:58) Jazzy and off-kilter, more twisting surreality in the lyrics, which harken back to seventies Bowie for me. Appropriately and oddly, this reminds me of an uptempo “The Laughing Gnome.” I like it.
3. “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” 3:56 We know this one, the first up tempo tune released in startling innovative video just last week. This is the Bowie we remember – familiar sounds spun in new and unfamiliar ways.
4. “Love Is Lost” (3:57) Again, we have that touch of the old done in anew way, definitely Bowie, yet refreshing. This is a relentless spinning groove
5. “Where Are We Now?” (4:08) The first tune released from The Next Day, on Bowie’s 66th birthday, surprising us all as we thought he had retired a decade earlier. It’s slow methodical ballad, that like “The Stars,” with an edge of the old looking back on the young and what used to be.
6. “Valentine’s Day” (3:01) This one strikes me as both old school, and most likely to be the pop ballad single, too bad it missed the obvious holiday mark a few weeks back. I bet we’ll hear this all over pop/rock radio next year in February.
8. “I’d Rather Be High” (3:53) Continuing the strong drumwork, lyrically this the Bowie of old, he’s talking about the world, and the madness in it, specifically the young men going to wars in the middle east. One of the strongest tracks on the album.
9. “Boss Of Me” (4:09) Great horn work on this tale of an unconventional love, but then again, aren’t all Bowie love songs unconventional. It’s a bit reminiscent of “China Girl” to me.
10. “Dancing Out In Space” (3:24) This tune is one that has a lot of early critics talking, but for me, it’s a’right. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, and it does spotlight Bowie’s vocal talents, but the odd repetitive undulating guitar rift kinda annoyed me after a bit.
11. “How Does The Grass Grow” (4:33) I like this one a lot more than the previous track, although some might find Bowie’s backing vocals as annoying as I found the guitars in “Dancing.” I think this one is my fave so far. It’s hard, it’s spiraling, it has strong vocals, crazy lyrics, and it’s just sooo Bowie. Love it.
13. “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” (4:41) This midtempo ballad grew on me, carried by Bowie’s strong voice and lyrics, creating melancholy mood beautifully. I am inexplicably reminded of Tim Curry coming out into the audience at the end of Rocky Horror. Don’t overlook this one.
14. “Heat” (4:25) Another ethereal Bowie ballad with surreal lyrics, haunting and melodic. Lovely and morose.
There are also three other songs – “So She,” “Plan,” and “I’ll Take You There” – bonus tracks on the ‘deluxe’ album. I suppose we will have to wait to hear those tunes. David Bowie’s The Next Day is set for official release on March 12th, 2013. I am so psyched!