Tag Archive: David Bowie

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on October 25, 2016.


Saying that David Bowie was theatrical is as obvious as saying ‘water is wet.’ It’s only shocking that it took him so long to put together his own musical. Lazarus ran for a limited engagement in New York last winter. It’s just starting up previews in the West End this month. Envisioned as a sequel to The Man Who Fell to Earth, it features tons of Bowie covers. Unless you see the show, the plot seems to be hard to come by. But the songs hold up in their new setting.

I’ll be honest. Before this year, David Bowie wasn’t really on my radar. I loved the hits and some of his albums like Ziggy Stardust, but he wasn’t someone I really looked at as a currently-active artist. The only song I knew past “Let’s Dance” was “I’m Afraid of Americans,” due to its association with Trent Reznor. But when Bowie announced The Next Day, I was really excited at the opportunity to appreciate a new release from him. I liked “Where Are We Now?” and loved “The Stars Are Out Tonight.” I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the album was like.

Bowie did not disappoint. I love every single song on this album. The title track’s foreboding atmosphere, building to a triumphant chorus that I never get sick of. Every guitar riff feels like a classic as soon as you hear it, like on “Boss of Me,” “(You Will) Set the World on Fire” and “Valentine’s Day.” I love the stories he creates on so many of the tracks too, such as the teenage soldier on “I’d Rather Be High,” another favorite of mine. I also enjoy how the album is reflective on his own past, but rarely obvious in its throwbacks. It reminds me most of another dark Bowie masterpiece, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, which is my favorite of his albums. This album far exceeded all of my expectations and showed that Bowie putting out his strongest work in three decades. For those reasons, it’s my album of the year.

Best Moments: All of the title track, the drunk horns in “Dirty Boys,” the lyrics in “I’d Rather Be High,” the opening female vocal on “If You Can See Me,” the mix of synths and guitars of “Love Is Lost” and of course, the “Five Years” tease.

When I first listened to this album in full, I wasn’t sure what to think. I liked many parts of it, but it was difficult to tell how it felt as a whole. It was only on repeated listens that Reflektor connected with me. I like how it has a kitchen sink approach, with each song having a unique style.

Yet, I still feel some tracks go wonderfully together, like the aggressively in-your-face “Normal Person” and the bouncy “You Already Know.” The chaotic drums that convert into a Neil-Young chorus on “Awful Sound” and the 80s-synthtastic “It’s Never Over” are two-sides of the same coin, two interpretations of the same story. The differing styles keep it from feeling repetitive. The title track and “Afterlife” both marry that Caribbean rhythm with Arcade Fire’s usual bombast and sincerity. The latter particularly has grown on me and has my favorite set of lyrics on the album, with Win moving from condemning the idea of an afterlife to realizing the appeal in an afterlife shared with a true love. While it could have been a little shorter (No need for “Here Comes The Night Time Pt. 2”), Reflektor is another winner from Arcade Fire.

Best Moments: The rave segment of “Here Comes The Night Time,” the “Billie Jean” bass line on “We Exist,” Bowie’s backing vocals on “Reflektor” and any time Regine sings.