Today’s desert island disc: David Bowie, Heathen

David Bowie Heathen

A review of David Bowie’s Heathen (2002)

Released in 2002, this is – for me – Bowie’s most satisfying record of the 2000s so far. It demonstrates what rock can sound like today – well-produced, full, dense, interesting, full of aural appeal, mystery, layers, greys and autumn colours. Bowie’s legacy, of course, is an impossibility to comment on in its entirety; this CD shows Bowie taking a look at it and creating un-ironic new music that’s both modern and conscious of many aspects of classic Bowie. Still one of rock’s most evocative lyricists, Bowie’s art is often in the way he leaves things unsaid – “5:15 The Angels Have Gone” is an ode to public transit as much as a love song and metaphysical reflection:

5:15 | Train overdue. | Angels have gone. | No ticket. | I’m jumping tracks. | I’m changing towns. | We never talk anymore. | Forever I will adore you.

If you thought Bowie’s run ended with Scary Monsters, think again. There’s a slew of newer records that are very good. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Earthling and Outside as (much) more than uneven oddities with really great bits, Hours, Heathen and Reality are all great, satisfying, ‘mature’ (in the best way) Bowie records.

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