Album Review: David Bowie – ★

By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor

[Columbia, 2016]

Rating: 4.5/5

Key Tracks: “★,” “Lazarus,” “I Can’t Give Everything Away”

★  (pronounced “Blackstar”), David Bowie’s 25th studio album, is difficult to talk about–not just because of its complexity, but because Bowie passed away two days after the album was released. The fact that this is his final record is hard for many to accept. Listening to ★ with the knowledge of his passing makes it all the more personal, especially since it acts as his final goodbye to his fans, which is the biggest reason why the album feels so important. On the whole, ★  is an incredibly creative record that perfectly acts as Bowie’s magnum opus and final album.

★ begins with the title track, a 10-minute epic that switches between a dark, atmospheric rock song and a more traditional slow ballad. Bowie’s singing, with high-pitched effects added in, is incredible, and the instrumentation (especially the drums and woodwinds) is beyond perfect. It quickly became considered one of the best tracks of last year upon its release, and here it turns out to be a fantastic way to start off such an emotionally striving record.

A big highlight on the album is “Lazarus,” which shows Bowie exploring the ideas of death as he suffers from liver cancer. The lines “Look up here, I’m in heaven” and “You know I’ll be free / Just like a bluebird / Now, ain’t that like me?” are simple, yet they pack enough punch to make the toughest of people tear up from the thought of losing a musical icon. These lines help show how influencial David Bowie was to the genre of rock and to people who consider themselves music fans.

However, the final song on this album “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is probably the most emotional, as it shows Bowie accepting his fate and finally saying goodbye. A bittersweet ending to ★, the upbeat atmosphere of the song shows Bowie at peace with death, while telling the listener to live their life as much as they can before they have to accept their own fate as well. It lets the listener say goodbye, too, creating a personal connection between them and Bowie. As heartbreaking as the song is, the upbeat sound lets the listener know that Bowie’s spirit will never truly die.

★ is a strange, confusing, catchy, depressing, beautiful record that’s one of the best Bowie has ever released. It’s a genius album that shows how important Bowie was to rock music, and it’s the perfect example of the phrase “going out with a bang.” It reminds everyone that although he is no longer living, Ziggy Stardust’s spirit and influence is immortal.

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