David Bowie and Iggy Pop: The Next Day and Ready To Die
There's always a question of whether or not icons can sustain their status and relevance as they age. Tied to histories that have cultivated their own mythology over time, we've been presented with comeback albums grasping onto some semblance of the youth they thrived in. In the chorus of the opening song off an album that came as a welcome shock to fans and loyal followers, David Bowie simply responds to the curious and the skeptical: "Here I am, not quite dying."
From there on, The Next Day unveils itself as one of the singer's most intimate outputs. Being one of rock's most malleable and evolving characters, Bowie has been able to adapt himself to the characters and moments he needed to at any point, but the theatrics don't feel as prevalent on The Next Day as they have in the past. He feels unmasked; stripped of Ziggy, Major Tom, and the Thin White Duke, we're left with an older man who only visits the past with a tip of his hat and a reflective nod. No longer is he reconditioning and shaping an imagined future -- he's living in it and speaks of it with a new sense of clarity.
Even with an arm's length distance with his past, there's a semblance of career-tracking that pervades each song. The sounds span decades and his voice and melodies are rooted in a self-made and unmatched trajectory. The ragged thinness of his voice and folksy elements recall his psychedelic-folk beginnings like the kind heard on his self-titled debut album from the late-'60s.