After months of waiting, David Bowie’s newest album The Next Day — his first original work in over 10 years — has finally been released. And I am happy to say, the hype was well worth it. David Bowie is back…and how! At the ripe old age of 66, Bowie produces some of the freshest music you will hear all year, and still retains the quintessential ‘Bowie’ sound.

Bowie brings his A-game to the studio as he constructs a densely-layered album with minimum fuss, finding a perfect balance between avant-garde experimentation and accessibility. With a clearly retro-influenced production technique, this album harkens back to the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in a decidedly ‘old-school’ feel, and yet manages to stay relevant. With a large part of the album consisting of simple riffs and hooks, Bowie uses the studio to create varying textures.

Right from the opening track ‘The Next Day’, it is clear that this out-and-out belter of an album is a throwback to the early days of studio rock. But it still manages to rival most modern-day releases in terms of technical proficiency. Judicious yet highly effective use of various sounds effects and instruments add depth to the songs.

Bowie’s lyrics are, as usual, cryptic and dark. Most of the lyrics are written from the point of view of a fictional character, and yet are autobiographical in nature. ‘Dirty Boys’ is written from the point of view of a young hooligan lamenting about life; ‘Where Are We Now?’ speaks of a man escaping a failed relationship; while ‘I’d Rather Be High’ sees life though the eyes of a soldier.

The best part is that, despite being fairly uncomplicated, repeated listens will ensure that the subject matter is open to the listeners’ interpretation. Bowie has always tended to conjure up strange imagery with his music and lyrics; this album does not disappoint on that front.Rock music has evolved drastically over the years. Albums like this one remain essential because they give the world a direction to move forward. At 66, Bowie is not getting any younger. However, with every passing album, his legend solidifies and his influence has far-reaching effects even today. The Next Day is, in a way, a mirror that the modern rock music needs to look before taking the next step.

Bottomline: A stunning, rich album by the last of the original rockstars.

The Next Day; David Bowie, Columbia, Rs.180 (MP3)