Album review | ROCK

David Bowie marches to his own beat in ‘The Next Day’

Album art for  "The Next Day" by David Bowie.

Columbia Records via AP

Album art for "The Next Day" by David Bowie.

Fearlessness has always been one of David Bowie’s most admirable — and consistent — qualities as an artist. He continues the tradition on “The Next Day.”

Teaming again with trusted producer Tony Visconti — who worked on classic ’70s releases like “Heroes” as well Bowie’s albums from the early ’00s — Bowie runs the gamut on this “Day,” melding kinetic jams and arty ennui as only he can and ginning up a sort of recombinant DNA of his own history, with songs sounding at once familiar and fresh.


The title track is a fuzzed-out guitar rocker that bristles with energy. Whiffs of funk and soul seep into the lusty, sweaty “Boss of Me.” Lowdown sax squalls punctuate the slinky “Dirty Boys.” “Love Is Lost” propels forward — on a pulsating groove, a thick organ drone, and nervy bundles of guitar — into a seductive kind of darkness. Sweet “ooh sha-la-la” Beatlesque backing vocals boost the earworm factor of the incongruously boppy “Valentine’s Day.”

Throughout, lyrics veer from place to place, from impressionistic to narrative. Bowie’s still-evocative voice similarly hopscotches through its many guises, from low and gravelly to tremulous and theatrical.

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“The Next Day” offers many sides of a multifaceted artist and almost all of them mesmerizing, as the songs grow richer with each listen. All of which perhaps makes sense, because if you haven’t released a record in a decade you probably want to come out with all of the arrows in your quiver. Even when Bowie doesn’t shoot straight, he hits an interesting target. (Out Tuesday)

Sarah Rodman

ESSENTIAL “Love is Lost”

Sarah Rodman can be reached at
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