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4 April 2010

David Bowie - 'Lodger' (RCA)

Lodger's a weird one because it's not actually that weird; it's considered part of a trilogy with Low and "Heroes" but it's not as dense and avoids the extended synth instrumentals. But there's something simultaneously wooly and rusty about Lodger which is why I've always had a soft spot for it. None of the songs are really catchy enough to be hit singles, and I guess the charts felt this way too. There's a turn towards multiculturalism, such as 'Yassassin' and 'African Night Flight', so this feels nothing like the concrete Berlin walls of Low. Maybe more like a Peter Kubelka film! But motion is the name of the game - 'Move On' and 'Red Sails' grip onto the way the world was becoming smaller at the end of the century. There's something very temporary about the whole thing - the band never gels, the lyrics suggest there's not going to be much happening tomorrow and the album is called Lodger, after all. The post-apocalypticism is most evident on the opener, 'Fantastic Voyage', but I think this track is brilliant because it sounds like it could be on John Cale's Paris 1919 album. So even though we're talking about bombs dropping, time unraveling backwards, etc. it's still has that feeling of sipping a cup of tea and staring out the window at the English countryside. I think Lodger is also interesting because even though it's the most pop-oriented of the trilogy in terms of construction, it's really hard to interface with. Adrian Belew plays guitar all over it and there's a few laser beams poking through the ozone layer, but generally George Murray's farty bass and Carlos Alomar's rhythm guitar keep things relatively contained. There's a lot of creaking in the edges; Eno's presence is so well-integrated that it's possible to ignore him. 'Red Money' is a great closing track that still escapes my brain as soon as it's heard; this is the detached, difficult Bowie, the one from The Man Who Fell to Earth. I've always felt like I never dedicated myself enough to Lodger, merely proclaiming it as "great" and then filing it away before I really could creep into the cracks. The distinct feeling that maybe there's nothing on the other side of the artifice should be troubling, but instead it's where the pleasure lies.

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