David Bowie - Where Are We Now? - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

David Bowie - Where Are We Now?

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2013-01-07

So, here's number two in a very short list of very unlikely comebacks. Following Pulp's glorious, disco-dancing, bum-slapping return on Christmas Day, the Grand Dame of art-rock is back with a new single, posted online on his birthday. Many fans (myself included, nearly) had given up on hearing any official new Bowie material, despite the fact we knew hed been recording stuff for years. He just didn't seem particularly bothered any more and, in fact, seemed to be pretty much over the whole concept of being David Bowie these days, preferring to live a quiet life with his family in New York. Can't blame him.

Yet, however lovely it was to think of Bowie achieving peace and stability in his autumn years, we still wanted him back. And lo - back he is, albeit in a low-key way, with this beautifully mournful piano ballad. 'Where Are We Now?' seems to find his Thin Whiteness returning to Berlin, that ever-regenerating city which saved his soul in the late-70s. He's walking its streets ("Walking the dead," as he croons with gut-punching sadness), haunted at every corner by ghosts and memories, by glimpses of who he was and people he's lost.

Like so much of Bowie's work in the 90s and 00s, 'Where Are We Now?' sees its author preoccupied with mortality, the inevitable passing of time, and loss. It all leads him to the inevitable question: If that was us then, where are we now? The music is subdued, stately, until it reaches a redemptive denouement where Bowie lists the things which still make life worth living, which make it possible for him to carry on and create.

Honestly, I can't say 'Where Are We Now?' is the best thing Bowie's ever done, but that doesn't seem like the point, not just because it's flipping wonderful to have him back (and such a relief following some scare stories about failing health). 'Where Are We Now?' is a perfect depiction of a great artist, a man who has truly lived, in his later years. Bowie's voice is still rich, but shaky, almost uncertain. Of course, ever the actor, this is undoubtedly what he wants us to hear, but the result is no less affecting.

An album is apparently coming in March. We'll see then which Bowie we are presented with this time. But for now, it's just enough that he's back to being Bowie. Really, I couldn't ask for a better start to the year.

Comments (3)

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If I didn't have to work I'd probably hang around New York all day just waiting to catch a glimpse of Bowie. I'm sure that's the stalkerish thing he doesn't want to hear but I'm sure we'd be great friends if he'd just give me a chance

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I feel exactly the same way! I bet we'd be totaly bezzie mates and I'd hang out with him and Iman and we'd talk about art and stuff and it would be great.

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This should be number one in the charts right now!

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