Who better to make an album about fortune and hardship than David Bowie? In 34 years, he has made over 40 albums, worked with seven different bands, reached glam rock stardom and fallen into irrelevance. He has changed his image, his style and even his sexual preference, and struggled all the way to constantly capture a new audience. Now, with Reality, the first album in a new deal with Sony, he has finally come to grips with the fortune and the pain of his career. Some songs on Reality weather the change better than others. Despite its pretentiousness, Bowie’s deconstruction of his own creative approach on “New Killer Star” is electrifying, while “Pablo Picasso,” the cheeky story of a once suave star that “was never called an asshole,” is equally fun. But for a man who once fled the United States because of controversy over a concert Nazi salute, Bowie seems to miss out on some of his most interesting stories. On the dead serious “The Loneliest Guy,” the aging rock star’s narrative fails to make any interesting pictures out of his odd metaphors: “Weeds between buildings/Pictures on my hard drive/But I’m the luckiest guy/Not the loneliest guy.” Closing the album brilliantly, though, is the ballad “Bring Me the Disco King.” On it, Bowie yearns for answers in the post-confusion of a fluttering career as he tries to set the future straight: “You promised me the ending would be clear/You’d let me know when the time was now/Don’t let me know when you’re opening the door/Stab me in the dark, let me disappear.” It proves that in a more insecure state Bowie is both fiercely interesting and telling. Often flawed and fumbling, Reality is not the disco king’s best work, but it is arguably his most sincere.
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