I had forgotten how refreshing it was to listen to a David Bowie song. His songs are, at the core, catchy pop songs.
However, through a variety of unconventional production techniques, he has been able to create some of the most unique and memorable works in the history of modern pop music.
Bowie’s latest album, “The Next Day,” is his first new material in 10 years. Working with producer Tony Visconti, he has managed to create songs that pay tribute to his earlier works while simultaneously reinventing himself without employing the cheap dubstep choruses that have doomed many other artists attempting modern reinvention.
Much of the album’s success is due to the amazing musicians playing on it. Guitarists Gerry Leonard, David Torn and Earl Slick add vicious, yet tasteful, riffs, while drummer Zachary Alford and bassists Gail Ann Dorsey and Tony Levin keep a tight and melodic rhythm section.
It’s difficult to classify the type of music that Bowie has made since each song seems to take a direction of its own.
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is a fairly mainstream rock song (using the term “mainstream” lightly); it strongly reminds me of some of the heavier songs off of Bruce Springsteen’s last few albums, but with Bowie’s distinctive touch.
“I’d Rather Be High” dabbles in psychedelic rock, as the title suggests, and “Valentine’s Day” seems to completely jumble around an old love ballad.
Of course, then there are songs like “If You Can See Me,” which are nearly impossible to pin down to one musical label (go listen, and if you can figure it out, kindly send me a message over Facebook. I’m serious.)
“The Next Day” sees David Bowie doing what he does best: writing great pop songs, and then producing them to go far beyond the acceptable boundaries of the genre.
His fearlessness is the reason he has managed to stay musically relevant for more than four decades, and I suspect this album will soon be held with the same regard as his other classic albums.