On Jan. 8, the world received word that the Thin White Duke, otherwise known as glam rock star David Bowie, had been busy recording a new album after a decade-long hiatus. Fortunately, time away from the industry has not hindered his musicality, and his new album, “The Next Day,” promises to be the album of the year.
The album’s instrumentation is full of vitality, with catchy guitar riffs, buoyant backbeats and Bowie’s signature sound. Tracks such as “Valentine’s Day” and “(You Will) Set the World on Fire” drive the album with an infectious pop/rock style.
His advancing age is recognizable in the sometimes-brittle quality of his voice in songs such as “Where Are We Now” and the closing track “Heat.” His voice has become staccato where it used to be smooth, but the various vocal textures deliver an emotive component to the tracks.
Lyrically, the album balances insightful depth and a more playful side. He has fun with frisky phrasing, such as “Smash some windows, make a noise / We will run with dirty boys,” in the song “Dirty Boys.” Bowie also crafts poetic and sentimental songs, such as in the album’s opener “The Next Day.” Bowie croons, “Here am I, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree,” which has had critics wondering if he is addressing his own mortality, referencing a literary work or acting as a storyteller.
Any rumors or fears of a disappointing album can be dispelled immediately. Though the album is unlikely to replace hit concept album “Ziggy Stardust” or “Station to Station” as the pinnacle of Bowie’s music career, the Thin White Duke has reemerged with an unbeatable comeback album for nostalgic Bowie fans.