After rejuvenating his career in the mid-90s and producing several quality projects, David Bowie left us off with 2003's lukewarm Reality and went on a hiatus. If it were to be his last album it wasn't the worst note to go off on, I did think there were many quality tracks to be found there after all, but it wasn't exactly an inspiring release.
Well, the year is 2013, 10 years had passed and Bowie was getting ready for a comeback. Now the news of another 66-year-old artist releasing another studio album wouldn't usually be something that many people care about, after all, musicians usually are way beyond burnt out by that point, but Bowie isn't just a typical another artist. He's David Motherfucking Bowie and if he's returning from a decade-long hiatus there must be a damn good reason for it. And the reason is he was about to drop his best batch of songs since 1980's Scary Monsters.
It was clear that if Bowie was to make another album, he wanted it to be essential. That is clearly illustrated in some of its key tracks. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" and "Valentine's Day" are as inspired as anything he released in his prime days and the thundering "(You Will) Set the World on Fire" and the moving closer show that he's still very much capable of writing passionate tracks with ease. It does go on for a bit too long and there are a couple of tracks that could have been left on the cutting room floor, but there's not a bad song to be found here. At its worst, it's a bit boring or aimless, but never bad.
The last thing I wanna note is the cover. It's something very simple, but instantly iconic. It's basically just the Heroes cover art with the text "The Next Day" splattered on it. But what it lacks in virtuosity it makes up for in its concept. On the title track of Heroes, Bowie asks his lover to be heroes, if only just for one day. Well, this is The Next Day. It explores the mundane aspects of a celebrity's life, but It doesn't explore them in the Mudane way. It explores its themes with passion and nuance he hasn't shown in a really long time. But most of all, I think this album proves that at the late age of 66, David Bowie was still on a pursuit to set the world on fire.
Best Tracks: The Stars (Are Out Tonight); Valentine's Day; (You Will) Set the World on Fire; The Next Day; Heat
Worst Tracks: Where Are We Now?