Is David Bowie's The Next Day the best rock comeback album ever?

Feb 26, 2013

British singer's first LP in a decade is 'filled with great songs' and among his very best work

DAVID BOWIE'S first album in a decade is as good as his very best work and represents the "greatest comeback album in rock 'n' roll history", claims The Independent's Andy Gill.

The signs were hopeful when Where Are We Now? - the first single from the The Next Day - met universal acclaim when it was released last month, on the singer's 66th birthday. Critics described the elegiac ballad as "beautifully strange", but the full album has left them grasping for superlatives.

Gill says the LP is clearly inspired by Bowie's time in Berlin in the 1970s. It was produced by his long-term collaborator Tony Visconti and uses the cover image from his 1977 album Heroes, "redacting it" by placing a plain white panel bearing the new album's title over the stylised monochrome image of the singer.

But The Next Day is not simply an exercise in nostalgia, says Gill, because the songs are "all about today". The recording "conveys, with apt anxiety or disgust, the fears and troubles of a world riven by conflict and distracted by superficial celebrity."

The Guardian's Alexis Petridis says The Next Day is "thought-provoking, strange and filled with great songs". Listening to the album makes you "hope it's not a one-off, that his return continues apace: no mean feat, given that listening to a new album by most of his peers makes you wish they'd stick to playing the greatest hits".

The bouquets keep coming, with the Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick describing it as "an absolute wonder: urgent, sharp-edged, bold, beautiful and baffling, an intellectually stimulating, emotionally charged, musically jagged, electric bolt through his own mythos and the mixed-up, celebrity-obsessed, war-torn world of the 21st century". The 14 songs are "short and spiky" says McCormick, and the sound is unmistakably that of a pared-back rock band.

Lyrically, the album is rather mystifying, admits McCormick, but then you "don't come to Bowie for easy answers". His conclusion: The Next Day is both "immediately rewarding and mystifyingly opaque".

In The Times, Will Hodgkinson, provides news that will delight many of Bowie's older fans. He says the new album sounds like "the Bowie so many of us grew up with; the Bowie that helped us make sense of the world".

The Next Day is released on March 11.

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