MAGNET’s #2 Album Of 2016: David Bowie’s “Blackstar”

davidbowie

Given the tragic circumstances, David Bowie could’ve uncorked a mediocre sendoff, and it would’ve likely been met with sympathetic ears. Instead, he does the appropriate thing and leaves us with Blackstar, one of the most compelling and original works in a 50-plus-year career loaded with such transcendent moments. Granted, his impending death—and the clues he offers of such—add a pained poignancy to the proceedings, especially on the wildly theatrical, heartbreakingly prescient title track: an engrossing hybrid of late-’70s Roxy Music and Bowie’s own camp-electronic collaborations with Brian Eno. Elsewhere, he’s (fittingly) dead-set on leaving behind something uncompromisingly original—albeit with morsels of his multiple former selves scattered about like a zigzagging trail of breadcrumbs, all leading back to the core genre-bending traits that defined his genius. Nothing comes easily on Blackstar. It’s an often difficult, even atonal, listen. With his consummate reputation for reinvention, who’s to say Bowie won’t keep us guessing in the afterlife?

—Hobart Rowland