David Bowie – “The Next Day”

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Sometimes I wonder about other people.   Sometimes I wonder a lot.

“The greatest comeback in rock ‘n’ roll history” raves the Independent; “more than half the album is fantastic, and the rest is very, very strong” crows the Quietus.  The New York Times called it “Bowie’s twilight masterpiece”.  “He makes the future sound irresistible” – this from Rolling Stone, of course.

What the hell are these people smoking?

I mean, sure, Rolling Stone will give any Boomer musician with a new album a glowing review and a handjob, because they’re the dinosaurs of modern musical journalism (I say with a copy of their 500 Greatest Albums special issue close to my heart).  Everyone else, though…am I hearing something different, or do I just not care that Bowie hasn’t put out an album in ten years?  It’s fundamentally boring.  It sounds very much influenced by his own Berlin trilogy and the Scary Monsters album that marks his last grasp at artistic relevancy.  Rather than gather strength from this era, The Next Day seems content to become a simple retread of it, a diminishing-return footnote to history thirty-some-odd years after the fact.  The album cover sums this up perfectly.  Look at it.  This is seriously the album art he decided to go with.  It’s literally Heroes with a white square superimposed and the title crossed out.  Is this some kind of meta wink-and-nudge at the fact that he decided to go back and mine his last glory days for inspiration?  Is David Bowie having everyone on?  I kind of hope so, because it would speak more to the state of rock journalism in 2013 than it would to Bowie’s skills as an arranger and songwriter.  As it stands, this is exactly the sort of album I expect faded Boomer rock stars to come out with in 2013:  utterly lacking in anything resembling new ideas, and offering up nostalgia in place of artistic merit.

FINAL MARK:  D+

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