On hearing that his latest album The Next Day was top of the album charts, I downloaded it onto my iPhone on a whim, and listened to it in the car while driving home from work.
This is far from my favourite David Bowie album. Indeed I’m tempted to say that I hate it. I always thought Bowie’s strength as a writer was his ear for a great melody, but there’s precious little melody to be found in The Next Day. Like the cover artwork, the content is sparse, colourless and feels unfinished.
The mood is dark, the music dischordant and tuneless, and I found some of it quite hard to listen to. My passenger in the car, also a Bowie fan during her early life, actually begged me to turn it off after about 4 tracks.
The single “Where Are We Now?” is growing on me. As are two other tracks “Valentine’s Day” and “I’d Rather Be High.” Some of the sampled riffs from earlier Bowie albums are quietly intriguing. But the over-riding, incessant anger and bitterness in the lyrics, and the raw, harshness of the sound leave me pining for the Bowie of old.
In order to recover from the trauma of listening to this album, I actually dug out my old vinyl copy of Hunky Dory and gave it a hug.