A chameleon changes colour to suit its surroundings and Bowie having been described as that kind of reptile now seems out of place. This is not an artist who hides in the times in which he produced 10 classic and lasting albums in a row (Space Oddity to Scary Monsters), and mostly great works otherwise (Outside, 1 – it may feel pretentious at times but there are parts of this as good as his classic period; Heathen and his 2000 live recording at the BBC, I was there, stand out).
Having decided in 1969 that the singer of Space Oddity needed to be discovered as my brothers played it, Bowie has punctuated this listener’s time and influenced his artistic side as many others. Every year a new record would appear and that excitement became a sort of moment of aroused expectation. And then after 2003’s Reality, his 60 a day cigarette habit and famed coke additions had consequences and he became nearly silent for a decade. And now The Next Day.
This chameleon changes colour instead to contrast with the world and most of his best records were groundbreaking strange works that one could not digest at first. I could not connect with some of his best records for years, Low, in particular, and it now continues to grow on me after hundreds of plays. Low was not popular when released. And now it is considered one of the great albums of all time.
This album is similarly difficult, in parts. It is highly eclectic: every track is like a part of Bowie’s career. Right now it is a bit more than 4 stars, but each time I listen to it, it gets better and more interesting. I suspect we will be listening to it for years.
ps:The Next Day … now exceeding five stars. Such musical detail and discovery.
See also: The Atlantic