David Bowie – ‘★’ (2016)

Never has there been an exploration of the concept of death like that of the small collection of tracks presented here. It is quite evident that Bowie stared death in the face throughout the entire writing process for his 27th and final studio album, Blackstar.

Like the majority of people, listening to this record prior to knowledge of Bowie’s death and illness, was like unravelling a mystery. It all became so clear after the news broke of his death and the symbolism within the album could be picked apart. Bookended with surreal, grandiose strings and a mix of peculiar, off-piste electronic beats, the opening title track transforms halfway through into a grooving soul ballad. Without this transformation, the track would not be as effective and dynamic. For me, the experimentation and the several shifts of instrumentation make this track a near-masterpiece.

The other highlight of the album is “Lazarus” and this is where the album themes really hit home. Paired with a beautiful melancholy jazz-rock instrumental, Lazarus materialises a magnificent, memorable soundscape and one of the creative highlights of Bowie’s extensive career. For me, it is incredibly difficult to pick my favourite track between the two discussed, however for execution within the sheer length, it has to be the title track.

Favourite track: Blackstar // Least favourite track: Tis’ a Pity She Was a Whore

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