David Bowie is full of surprises. His frequent ch-ch-changes over the years, both in sound and image, are the reason the term “musical chameleon” was invented. But the British icon’s dramatic return this month, after a decade living quietly in New York with his Somali-American model wife, Iman, and their daughter, caught even the most ardent Bowiephiles off guard.
While deciphering Bowie is always a challenge, The Next Day deals with the anxious state of a chaotic world. There are ballads like the wistful, Berlin-referencing “Where Are We Now” and the elegiac “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die.” But the album is heavily rock-oriented. Thought-provoking songs such as the Ziggy Stardust-like title track and the “Young Americans”-style urgency of “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” are classic Bowie. There’s also experimentation in numbers like the off-kilter “If You Can See Me.” Overall, it’s a powerful return to form. Make no mistake, Bowie is back.