On this day last year, we were celebrating something very different. It was David Bowie's 69th birthday, as well as the release of his twenty-fifth record ★. It was only two days later we learned that it would be his last album. David Bowie died two days after his final album and birthday, but his soul didn't die. 2016 was a year heralded by loss that kept sneaking its way into our lives with each passing month, but what it showed us was that heroes never die.
You know Bowie was a hero when we still celebrate his birthdays after he's done having them. Today, on what would be has 70th birthday, he has posthumously released a new four-song EP entitled No Plan. The EP features three new tracks from the Blackstar sessions, also meant for inclusion on his off-Broadway musical entitled Lazarus.
This EP contains some of the final material Bowie recorded in a studio, and it's quite humbling to hear. The EP begins with the ★ track 'Lazarus,' a moody track full of atmospheric saxophones and textures. It's delightfully retrospective, and while we've had this song available to us for a year already, it does act as a sobering reminder of the legend we lost. It's dreamy textures serve as a retrospective look into Bowie's fruitful past; both the electrifying highs and the soulcrushing lows are found in this track. It's impact is perhaps even stronger now than it was a year ago.
Another familiar track on the EP is the title track 'No Plan,' which was released a few months back in 2016. All of the tracks on this EP were released on the soundtrack to Bowie's musical, but this EP delivers Bowie's renditions. Bowie's version of this track was released in conjunction to the release of the soundtrack, but a music video accompanying this track was released to promote this album. The dreamy and moody textures are still present here, the haunting recollections of Bowie's life still reigning true in the song. It's a very ★ track, really embodying all that made the record its own monster.
Things take a turn on 'Killing A Little Time.' A dark, urgent guitar riff introduces the track, paranoid percussion ringing atop a deep, punchy bassline. This track feels a lot more distinct and upfront than other tracks found on Blackstar, showing Bowie's reluctance to die rather than embracing his past. Jagged remarks against death like "I've got a handful of songs to sing / To sting your soul / To fuck you over / This furious reign" give this track a distinctly more angry and shocking attack than much of the rest of the record. It's like a mix between the title track 'Blackstar' and 'Girl Loves Me,' the anger and darkness of both tracks coming into one.
The final track on the EP, 'When I Met You,' is more like a blast to the past than other tracks. There's many distinct dimensions on this track, the mix clearly separating certain instruments from another to create these different levels. The mixing style gives the track an old-fashioned vibe reminiscent of Bowie's older days. The bassline rings powerfully and optimistically above everything else, giving the track a distinct drive that's packed with some groove.
The No Plan EP contains what are perhaps the final recordings from David Bowie. It's upsetting to think that this was the end of the road - there likely isn't much left to share from these sessions that we haven't already gotten. Where we can find reassurance, though, is that David Bowie's legacy will forever live on, and No Plan is just a testament to that. An artist of such caliber will never die - no matter how many times we listen to his material, it will still have a profound impact on us. We can cling on to compilations and rereleases for years to come now, but at the core of it all was a true artist sharing his world with us. That's why David Bowie will never die.
Favorite Tracks: Killing A Little Time, Lazarus
Least Favorite Track: When I Met You
Rating: 87 / 100
Buy or listen to the No Plan EP via Amazon: