David Bowie’s final album Blackstar - reviewed

David Bowie ... Blackstar (RCA).
David Bowie ... Blackstar (RCA).

David Bowie’s 25th album, Blackstar, which was only released on Friday, will no doubt top this week’s charts, after today’s sad news of his death at the age of 69 from cancer.

And while it’s been hailed as a real return to form by one of music’s true legends, many people will buy it without really know what to expect.

Well - and this is no dewy-eyed, posthumous tribute - I can honestly say it’s genuinely brilliant.

While the praise heaped on 2013’s The Next Day became overblown in the furore of his unexpected return, Blackstar is comfortably his finest output in two decades - and perhaps even since Scary Monsters, his last true classic, all the way back in 1980.

Eschewing its predecessor’s self-referential and relatively conventional rock, these seven songs bubble with vibrancy and imagination, with influences ranging from free-form jazz to drum and bass and experimental hip-hop.

Along with his plethora of ‘70s hits, it’s audacious moments like Blackstar’s 10-minute title track, the foreboding Lazarus and the eerie Girl Loves Me for which Bowie will be remembered.

And if this record proves anything, it’s that his insatiable creative appetite persisted until the end.

It’s not morbid or impenetrable either; there are moments of great beauty to be found, not least in the golden melodies underpinning closing duo Dollar Days and I Can’t Give Everything Away.

Few artists’ lyrics are pored over and analysed as much as Bowie’s, but it’s neigh-on impossible to listen to this record without perceiving it as a carefully orchestrated, masterly-veiled farewell.

A singular, triumphant swansong created entirely on his own terms, it adds to a legacy that’ll endure beyond his, or any of our lifetimes. Buy it! 9/10. AW