This week saw the reappearance of David Bowie, a musician whom everyone thought had quietly retired, never to be seen by the world again. But Bowie managed to pull off a rare feat on his 66th birthday and released not only a new song called Where Are We Now?, but announced the details of a whole new album to be released in two months’ time, The Next Day.
So what can be made of the Thin White Duke’s first music in 10 years? Produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, Where Are We Now? certainly has a nostalgic feel to it – recalling Bowie’s Berlin years it reeks of references to that creative hub with “sitting in the Dschungel on Nurnberger Strasse” amongst other reminiscences. Layered with his honest tones it provides a teary look back on times passed – contrary to his default avant-garde aesthetic.
“The moment you know you know you know”. He provides an interesting comment on today’s landscape, clearly shown in the title of the song. It is almost as if he has reached that old crooner stage, like Hurt-era Johnny Cash; but Bowie talks less about self-regret as confusion for the world around him. He also manages to retain some his original musical style, reminding us of his younger self, almost nostalgic for older days: as with most of his work, it is steeped in mystery, which is itself locked in a safe.
Where Are We Now? is a marvellous return for Bowie, keeping true to his inherent mysteriousness but proving effective all the same. What The Next Day holds remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Mr. Bowie isn’t going away any time soon.