David Bowie had one hell of a 66th birthday yesterday by releasing a new single and announcing his first new album in a decade. Poor Elvis -- Ziggy Stardust had to steal all of the glory of a January 8 birthday.
New single "Where Are We Now?" may be a slow song, but Bowie's producer Tony Visconti told The Guardian that The Next Day will be "quite a rock album." We'll know for sure when it comes out on March 12 in the US.
In The Guardian piece, Visconti said he was surprised that Bowie chose this song as opposed to coming "out with a bang."
"It's maybe the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him," Visconti says.
This intimate, piano-driven ballad sounds like it could have been written in Bowie's heyday. In fact, "Where Are We Now?" sounds a bit like the minimalist music he produced during "The Berlin Era," which is not surprising, considering that the song is about his time living in Germany.
10 years of no new albums built a lot of anticipation for Bowie's surprise new single. Expectations were high, given the musician's extensive background. He's had a few comebacks, rebirths and reinventions, but "Where Are We Now?" shows David Bowie stronger than ever. This song may not be as rock 'n roll as the rest of the album, but Bowie beautifully bears his soul in four minutes' time.
"Where Are We Now?" fills in some of the blanks for what Bowie has been up to lately--aside from being cast as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. In 2004, he had an emergency angioplasty in Hamburg and canceled a bunch of tour dates and decided to put his musical career on hold for awhile.
This beautiful new song is addictive, especially with its trippy accompanying video that looks like something David Lynch could have created. Images of a Siamese twin Bowie are spliced with black and white images of Germany. It's a little unnerving, but the surrealism works quite well. The German references are a bit easier to understand thanks to the lyrical overlay in the video.
If "Where Are We Now?" is a good indication of how The Next Day will sound, the time off has served Bowie well.