It’s fair to say a collective shudder of joy swept round the NS when David Bowie launched his well-hidden comeback last month with the video for Where Are We Now? And the excitement doubles with today’s release of The Stars (Are Out Tonight), a music video/micro film starring avant-garde actress extraordinaire Tilda Swinton. The track is Bowie’s second single off his forthcoming album The Next Day, due out 11 March.
The film: a stylish six minutes with an ambiguous narrative. It's loosely plotted - Bowie and Swinton feature as a pastel-perfect suburban couple whose lives are invaded by a pair of modelish androgyns (played by real-life models Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw) who begin to pull the strings, puppetmaster-like, on the unwitting couple.
The song: a swift moving track with a rippling backbone of reverb guitar - a clear departure from his previous release (which our pop critic Kate Mossman describes as “elegiac” and “luxuriantly self-reflexive”.) The Telegraph's Neil McCormick called it a return to the more “swaggering” rock 'n' roll days of Ziggy Stardust. I’m most concerned with the sideways fable Bowie seems to hint at with these ominous, poetic lyrics that leave the head spinning:
The stars are never far away, they watch us from behind their shades - Brigitte, Jack and Kate and Brad. From behind the tinted windows stretch, gleaming like blackened sunshine…
They know just what we do. The way we toss and turn at night. They’re waiting to make their moves on us.
Autobiographical musings on the nature of stardom? A fantastical imagining of the modern celebrity? Bowie’s left us guessing, once again.