David Bowie breaks silence with 'beautiful' new single

British singer dispels retirement rumours with a new single and first album in ten years

LAST UPDATED AT 11:56 ON Tue 8 Jan 2013

DAVID BOWIE has marked his 66th birthday by releasing a "beautifully strange" new single, an unexpected event one critic describes as the "most surprising, perfect and welcome comeback in rock history".

When the Daily Telegraph released a photograph of a gaunt-looking Bowie carrying his lunch in a paper bag and wearing a flat cap, jeans and sweatshirt last year, it speculated that the Ziggy Stardust singer might be unwell and was "slipping into retirement". But the paper's music critic Neil McCormick says today's release of Where Are We Now? is a brilliantly conceived comeback.

The record, which is produced by Tony Visconti – Bowie's collaborator on 12 of his "classic" albums – was released at 5am today on the singer's website.

Its lyrics refer to the three years Bowie spent in Berlin in the mid-70s making the albums Low, Heroes and The Lodger.

Describing himself as "a man lost in time", he makes frequent references to places he frequented in the German city, a nostalgic mood enhanced by the accompanying video that mixes stark monochromatic images of Berlin in the 1970s with new footage of Bowie inside the car mechanic's workshop beneath the apartment he once rented.

McCormick describes the 66-year-old's voice as "weary, tenderly understated and quietly defiant".

And there's more good news for Bowie fans. The single is taken from The Next Day, his first new album in ten years, as The Guardian reports. The album will be launched in March, but a spokesman for the singer said there are no plans for a tour.

Where are we Now? got an immediate welcome from fans and critics alike. Long-time fan Boy George declared it "bloody gorgeous", reports The Independent, while writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson declared it "great".

Writing in the Evening Standard, David Smyth describes the new single as "gentle, elegiac and stunningly beautiful".

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We had to wait a long time for a new Bowie to appear. But it has been worth waiting for. Let's bury for ever the Gangnam nonsense in the darkest catacombs of our memory.

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