Even death can’t stop genius.
So, David Bowie passed over a year ago now. At the time, I wasn’t as affected as I would be now. There may be shame in it, but I took his death as an oppurtunity not only to explore and love his works and what he’s done, but also properly widen my music tastes. However, this isn’t a memoriam piece, this is a review. Releasing a year after his final record Blackstar, and almost a year after his death, No Plan is an EP compiled of songs written for the Broadway musical Lazarus and were recorded during the Blackstar sessions. Now, after listening to Blackstar a good number of times and really letting Bowie’s life and death affect me in some way, this is my first time listening to one of his records with this state of mind, which will prove interesting in reception of it, for me, obviously. You guys are all just gonna be looking for that high-
class, formal n’ impeckabley ritten music journalism that I always provide.
Opening the EP is Lazarus, lead single from Blackstar and a cut that most clearly references the artist’s impending death, making it a very haunting and harrowing listen. Lyrics like “Look up here/I’m in Heaven/I’ve got scars/That can’t be seen“, along with sombre bass and horns, truly make this an emotional song at the least. I mean, musically, it’s brilliantly layered and rich, but what else would you expect? I really can’t flaw this song all too much.
After this is lead single, the titular No Plan. Immediately, we are treated to something a bit lighter, albeit with a more sinister edge. The sparce instrumental intro, definied by the eerie guitar plucking, is then flipped on its head when the vocals begin, filling out into something a bit warmer, as if Bowie’s presence adds an element of comfort perhaps. The simple but well-executed drum patterns and full bass parts really accent this, along with the spacey piano and guitar, to give the listener an intergalactic experience.
After this, we have Killing A Little Time. Sonically, the differences between this track and the rest on the EP are vastly apparent, opening with some harsh electric guitar parts and a jazzy but heavy drum part, with a wild beat being held down by a constant ride cymbal akin to an untamed lion tied to a sleeping bear… that’s made of ride… cymbals?? Umm…
Anyway, it’s a welcome shift in pace from the downtempo singles that open the album, with Bowie’s vocal performance, though very ragged as a lot of the songs from this and Blackstar, still having an element of youthful swagger to them, with his thematic and sometimes foul-mouthed lyrics bringing a smile to my face.
Finally, we have closer When I Met You, which slows the pace down from the breakneck song before it but also keeps things light with a melodic bass part and chilled beat. It’s a very groovy alt rock-tinged number with a lot of pop tendencies, including some euphoric synthesizers. The pleasant nature of the song really wouldn’t be home on Blackstar so I’m happy that I can listen to it outside of that context. It also serves as a really nice closer to the EP, especially considering the dark nature of the opener.
Overall, David Bowie’s No Plan EP is just so, for lack of a better word, nice. I mean, maybe that’s an understatement, but it reminds us that, after Blackstar, Bowie was the guy to bring the party and the happiness to people’s lives, though maybe that might just be the When I Met You speaking, I dunno. Nonetheless, for a collection of afterthoughts, it keeps a great structure and shows just how good he was — and he was the best.
I think it’d be a bit silly to give this a rating out of 100, so I’m gonna just say that it is very good.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations