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CD review: David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’

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Annie Zaleski

The Details

David Bowie
The Next Day
Four stars

David Bowie has fashioned a career out of bucking conventions and reinventing himself. But when he stepped back from music in 2004 after tour-ending heart surgery he was freed from the weight of his own expectations.

Bowie’s first album in a decade, The Next Day, is an energized rock ’n’ roll record that all but banishes the ennui of his 2000s output. Produced by longtime collaborator Tony Visconti—and featuring contributions from bassists Gail Ann Dorsey and Tony Levin, drummer Sterling Campbell and guitarist Earl Slick—the collection features focused songwriting full of well-defined hooks and knotty, erudite lyrics.

The title track is a jaunty dance-funk march reminiscent of 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps); Slick’s white-hot guitar drives the glam stomp “(You Will) Set the World on Fire;” and icy keyboards and Levin’s cutting bass propel the futuristic chaos of “If You Can See Me.” But The Next Day isn’t simply a victory lap through career highlights; in particular, the string-blessed torch song “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and the Tom Waits-like, saxophone-gruff “Dirty Boys” extend in creative new directions.

After all Bowie has accomplished, he didn’t have to make another record to cement his legacy. But The Next Day proves that he still has plenty left to say.

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