Well, it appears that Bowie put out a feeler last year, a sonic reconnaissance mission to check whether anyone still gave a flying. The Next Day’s a splendid, vital (for a guy in his late 60s, come on) piece of work on its own terms – and most others – but bravura experimental Dave wasn’t really coming out to play. We had muscular, occasionally a bit damaged Dave. And he’s a good guy.
This year he’s not doing an album, just plumping up a new best of, and he’s doing that with more gnarly excursions this time around. ‘Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)’ was avant-jazz Dave, the kind of thing you find yourself protesting “but I really do like it! I’m not just saying it” about. (I really do like it! I’m not just saying it.) But ”Tis A Pity She Was A Whore’ is a nagging, hurtling, panicked, hovering thrill that – let’s face it – could’ve turned up on an album by our old pals TV On The Radio. They’ve got a mutual love-in thing going on anyway, and that’s fine with me because I’d like to be slap-bang in the middle of that sandwich. Figuratively. Sometimes not so figuratively.
So, I’m happy here. The Juniors? Absolutely not. “It wasn’t really loud or one of those rocky ones,” says Junior, as if that’s a good thing, “but it wasn’t that interesting.” Her younger sisters are even harder on it. “It hasn’t got much talking and it’s very boring,” points out Junior 2. “It’s a zero.” I think Bowie would quite like being called “a zero”. Junior 3 is more succinct: “I do not like it so thumbs-down.” He might not be so happy about that, but of course all reactions to art are equally valid.