The Guardian - September 12th, 2003
David Bowie, Reality (Columbia)
By Caroline Sullivan
Like all proper Dave albums, Bowie's 26th has at its core a concept, around which 11 songs uneasily cluster to articulate the master's daft vision. At the age of 56, he has decided to address the daftest of them all: What is reality? (Or, as he chuckles: "The basis [of reality] is more an all-pervasive influence of contingency than a defined structure of absolutes.")
Despite this, Reality is touching, intelligent and - a bonus - listenable. It's not, as Bowie claims, up there with Low, but the rocking archness of New Killer Star and the haunted, look-back-in-anger mood of Bring Me the Disco King show why he still merits the consideration not enjoyed by grunts like the Rolling Stones.
A mix of classic - not nostalgic - rock (the influence, presumably, of producer Tony Visconti), ambient duskiness and the electronic furbelows he has embraced since the 1990s, Reality gels unexpectedly well.
Bowie's striking vocals are royally raging on a bruising cover of Jonathan Richman's Pablo Picasso, then frail and old as Disco King and Days fade out like wisps of smoke. As for the "reality" business, the lyrics leave you guessing. That'll be the lack of defined structure of absolutes, then.
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