Dave's New World

Copyright 1997 Melody Maker

Sent to me by John Sellars

Warning for anybody of a cynical disposition: this review contains favourable sentiments towards David Bowie and his new album, Earthling. It includes the words "jungle" and "glam" in close proximity, the description, "A brave and frequently startling collusion of the forever and the now", and even (hold tight), "Best since Scary Monsters. Like the album this review contains the words "cock" and "tits", although here they're in a factual, not mischievous context. This review includes vivid depictions of strange and confrontational noises: "death slammer metal", "Motorhead techno", "pulverising rhythmic hypnotism" and "a robot with his zipper caught up with his 'willy'". But it steadfastly refuses to wallow in sentiment or nostalgia and tries to confront the present while making nothing more than a few, fleeting obligatory references to His past.

This is a review of Earthling: frenetic, fractured, urgent, exitable (flawed? certainly), neon, chaotic, cyberreal...sexy? GRREAAWW, CAKKADadaDADA. Here we have a rigorous roughing-over of The Rock Dynamic. TIKKA-didaw-A-CHEEKA. With a drum'n'bass rhythm section. Bowie hasn't stooped to cloning (he never stoops-it's terrible for the posture). Bowie absorbs. Bowie assimilates. Then Bowie advances. Thus Low: the immaculate fusion of punk nihilism and Kraftwerk steel. Young Americans: Philly Soul plus LA plasticity. Earthling = glam + industrial + jungle (- Shakatak) x Bromley boy-turned-Noo Yawk sooperstar restlessness + Prodigy + Gerald x Placebo (who inc Diamond Dogs/10 per cent Lodger)= 1997 and he knows it. "Feels like something's gonna happen this year".

Earthling is an optimistic album about death. Judgement day can go to hell ("I've never been a sinner, la di dah")... age can go to blaze(r)s. "It's just the rain before the storm." Mortality is inevitable ( Dead Man Walking), God, no answer (yes, DAvid, we do remember "The Lord's Prayer"): "I pray to you/ Nothing ever goes away." But there's gotta be something at the end of humanity's consumerism. "Nowhere-shampoo-TV-comeback-shorter hairstyle-where do we go from here?" ( Looking for Satellites). Bowie seems to conclude that man's eventual fate lies in chromosomes, cybergenics, technologies and space, boy and thus reveals himself to be the same adventure-hungry, cosmic-exploring phuturephantasist who dreamt up Ziggy Stardust all those years ago. I'm sure he loves being reminded of that. "I don't want knowledge, I want certainty."

David Bowie is 50 years old. Apparently.

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This document last updated Tuesday, 15-Sep-1998 21:34:10 EDT
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