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Both artistic and commercial,
This review is from: Scary Monsters (Audio CD)
Despite its alt-rock/punkish influences, side one of this album is actually very commercial and probably self-consciously so. In fact every album after Low and Heroes seems to be packed with potential singles. On Scary Monsters, 'Fashion' is a clear single (and a very annoying one at that after repeated listenings). 'Ashes to Ashes' is a masterstroke though: both artistically (probably the best single he ever released) and commercially (only his second number one). Bowie's genius is making you think that he is a left-field outsider producing art rock for an intellectual minority whilst at the same time racking up the hit singles and raking in the dosh.
People very rarely mention the fact that Bowie totally reinvented his voice yet again for this whole album - affecting a slack-jawed singing style which fits perfectly with the undercurrents of paranoia and impotence which seem to permeate the tracks. There is a definite effort to unify the album musically and thematically which seems to be a reaction against the less successfull pot pourri of styles on its predecessor ' Lodger'. The Japanese vocals on 'It's no Game are both arresting and powerful and, although lengthy, 'Teenage Wildlife' is filled with fine guitarwork and insightful lyrics by a man who was realising that the world had caught up with him. The only weaknesses for me are the slightly disappointing 'Because You're Young' on a second side which gradually peters out of energy, but then has Bowie ever produced two flawless sides since Hunkydory or Diamond Dogs?