• Record Label: Columbia
  • Release Date: Jan 8, 2016
Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 43
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 43
  3. Negative: 0 out of 43
Buy On
  1. Magnet
    Mar 30, 2016
    100
    Kudos to producer Tony Visconti and the tight jazz team around them for making Blackstar dynamic. If Bowie indeed knew time was tight and death’s release was imminent, this treatise to magic and loss is a gorgeous way to say goodbye. [No. 129, p.52]
  2. Jan 20, 2016
    100
    Only by placing the music in the context of David Bowie's death has that roadblock been removed--something I'm quite certain was deliberate on the part of the artist, as musical context so often is. And once that context is realized, so is the dark beauty of Blackstar.
  3. Jan 12, 2016
    100
    It feels as bold and weird as anything in Bowie’s back catalogue, sure to delight some and infuriate others.
  4. Jan 5, 2016
    93
    True to the tone of the record, Bowie is almost a spectre throughout [Blackstar].
  5. 91
    There are more than enough narratives to follow down the rabbit hole here, and themes and imagery so dense they could probably be dissected for days or even weeks. Most of all, though, it’s the kind of album that works beautifully as a physical experience.
  6. Jan 8, 2016
    91
    For all its jazz accents and solos, Blackstar ends up becoming a stage for the things that first made Bowie a pop star: his incessantly catchy melodies and elastic voice.
  7. Jan 26, 2016
    90
    Focused on bass, percussion, saxophone and various odd electronic punctuations, the new work is equal parts thrilling and devastating.
  8. 90
    As with David Bowie’s entire career, he’s once again given us enough to keep us wanting more, while reminding us of all the inspired gifts that came before.
  9. Jan 8, 2016
    90
    It’s an album that sums up Bowie as an artist--restless, audacious, constantly looking forward to the next new idea. January may only be a week old, but that ‘Best Of 2016’ list already has a slot filled.
  10. Jan 8, 2016
    90
    It’s trippy and majestic head-music spun from moonage daydreams and made for gliding in and out of life.
  11. Jan 8, 2016
    88
    Mood frequently trumps melody, but the music is rarely flat or monochrome.
  12. Jan 7, 2016
    85
    As much as Blackstar shakes up our idea of what a David Bowie record can sound like, its blend of jazz, codes, brutality, drama, and alienation are not without precedent in his work.... Bowie will live on long after the man has died. For now, though, he’s making the most of his latest reawakening, adding to the myth while the myth is his to hold.
  13. 83
    Blackstar is a battle cry against boredom, a wide-eyed drama set in a world just beyond our scopes. It doesn’t get more Bowie than that.
  14. 83
    When packaged together, the album’s 41 minutes of clatter, jazz, and incantation coalesce into something otherworldly and almost marvelous.
  15. The Wire
    Feb 18, 2016
    80
    It is a fine, unnerving album. [Mar 2016, p.45]
  16. Jan 26, 2016
    80
    Blackstar is an absorbing (if consciously arty and perhaps a shade self-indulgent) listen.
  17. Jan 22, 2016
    80
    The Bowie that his fans love most--the unpredictable, courageous and cutting-edge enthusiast-- is properly back, and while this kind of intense listening experience might not trouble the current crop of massive-selling rock stars, he’s somehow a damn sight more vital than the lot of them.
  18. 80
    Recorded by a New York jazz quartet, the entire record sounds superb and oddly intimate.
  19. Jan 12, 2016
    80
    David Bowie hasn't sounded this relevant in an age. [Blackstar] marks the bold and rejuvenated beginnings of a second or maybe third wind.
  20. Jan 12, 2016
    80
    [This] is the first time Bowie’s been interesting since 2002’s overlooked Heathen, and if you prefer his avant-garde side, this is the first sustained material of its kind in far longer; both of these are certainly things to celebrate.
  21. Jan 12, 2016
    80
    While Blackstar features a fair amount of indulgence, especially on the aforementioned 10-minute-long title track, it never feels labored, and the music never even once imitates the nightmarish soundscapes of Scott Walker.
  22. Jan 11, 2016
    80
    The way the lyrics alternate between ambiguous introspection and dark whimsy can also confuse the sense of the album as a whole, but hunting for patterns or for humanity on Blackstar is less the point than enjoying the majesty of David Bowie, even on the verge of his death, sounding this incredibly alive.
  23. Jan 11, 2016
    80
    You have to assume Bowie is tackling myriad theatrical voices as Blackstar throws up one unsettling scenario after another, with little obvious connection other than unease and the outrageously good soundtrack in which they are set--weighty with percussion and genre fusions, saturated with instruments, bleak, and unexpectedly, towards the end, resolved.
  24. Jan 11, 2016
    80
    With Blackstar, Bowie disengages himself once again from popular opinion and scoffs at the idea of taking the righteous path, finding inspiration in what is immoral and contentious. But in doing so he also finds an artful niche that suits his sixty nine years of age.
  25. Jan 8, 2016
    80
    [Blackstar], amidst all its trappings, is a puzzle begging for examination, and a solidly unique work from an artist who is no stranger to breaking boundaries.
  26. Jan 8, 2016
    80
    Blackstar sees him and his band nail a haunting mood.
  27. Jan 8, 2016
    80
    Bowie's joy in emphasizing the art in art-pop is palpable and its elegant, unhurried march resonates deeply.
  28. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    Although there's cosmic energy in the music's upward trajectory, it comes from a decidedly earthbound live-off-the-floor approach rather than meticulously sculpted production.
  29. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    The album is dense and intriguing, neither a straightforward rock record nor so wildly experimental as to be inaccessible.
  30. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    Blackstar is its own strange, perverse thing, the ­latest move in a boundlessly ­unpredictable career.
  31. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    With Blackstar, Bowie has made a record that fits comfortably within that legacy while reasserting himself as an artist that continuously makes challenging and rewarding music.
  32. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    From challenging, in your face exploration to beautifully light-as-air soulful ballads, there’s a constant idea that there’s no clue as to where the next track will swerve. There’s a feeling that Bowie is having fun too.
  33. Jan 7, 2016
    80
    It’s a rich, deep and strange album that feels like Bowie moving restlessly forward, his eyes fixed ahead: the position in which he’s always made his greatest music.
  34. 80
    It’s at once emotive and cryptic, structured and spontaneous and, above all, willful, refusing to cater to the expectations of radio stations or fans.
  35. One of the few certainties we can take from this restless, relentlessly intriguing album is that David Bowie is positively allergic to the idea of heritage rock.
  36. Dec 23, 2015
    80
    Blackstar is a ricochet of textural eccentricity and pictorial-shrapnel writing.
  37. 80
    David Bowie releases the most extreme album of his entire career: Blackstar is as far as he's strayed from pop.
  38. Q Magazine
    Dec 9, 2015
    80
    At 41 minutes, Blackstar is a more concise statement than The Next Day and a a far, far more intriguing one, enticing you to follow Bowie further down this freshly-rediscovered, individualistic path where sonic surprises lurk around every corner--a journey that, at times, is not for the faint of heart. [Jan 2016, p.104]
  39. Dec 9, 2015
    80
    Halfway through and it's breathtakingly apparent that David Bowie isn't so much back on the horse as riding bareback towards a cliff-edge. [Jan 2016, p.86]
  40. Uncut
    Dec 9, 2015
    80
    After the crunchy riffs of The Next day, Blackstar has a more nuanced approach. [Jan 2016, p.67]
  41. 70
    Lyrically, Bowie it at his best here when he dives fully into off-kilter impressionism and ponders the uncertain present and apocalyptic future.
  42. Jan 6, 2016
    70
    Despite expert camping, the title track, lodged like a splinter at the beginning of the sequence, strikes as too reliant on wintry rue. But when three-note fuzz guitar blasts answer each lyric in “Lazarus,” or Bowie harmonizes with himself on the nonsense lyric of “Girl Loves Me,” it’s hard to resist 40 years’ worth of craft resulting in so intriguing a record.
  43. 70
    Even more than The Next Day, these seven tracks suggest the sounds inside his head are in sync with his long-time soul brother Scott Walker, though thankfully he remains on warmer terms with old-fashioned melody and emotion.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 713 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 32 out of 713
  1. Jan 8, 2016
    10
    He did it again. After a more rocking, traditional "The Next Day", Bowie is back to experimental ground in "Blackstar". This is his mostHe did it again. After a more rocking, traditional "The Next Day", Bowie is back to experimental ground in "Blackstar". This is his most ambitious album since "Outside" - I'm not saying that his most rocking albums were bad, they were just most conventional than this.

    Bowie always experimented with jazz. We all remember Aladdin Sane, Jump They Say, Seven Years In Tibet, the Berlin Trilogy. It's the first music genre he fell in love with when a child. But he never released a entire album of jazz music.

    Blackstar is the closer he gets, but it's not simply a "jazz album": it's dark, experimental, electronic and remiscent of his Berlin trilogy and of his underated masterpiece "Outside". Two songs are immediatly absolute masterpieces: the 10 min "Blackstar", spiritual sucessor at least in structure to "Station to Station"; and the dramatic, melancholic "Lazarus", wrote for his play of same name.

    The whole album is groundbreaking. Even the two songs that we already knew from 2014, "Sue" and "Tis a Pity" are reworked and in much superior versions here. It's a short album, but much like Station to Station and Earthling, it's immediate and without a single bad song. Without even a regular song; every song is damn good, ambitious and different in every way.

    The three final tracks are some of his finest ballads, the atmospheric "Girl Loves Me", the beautiful "Dollar Days" and the message to the fans in the final track: "I can't give everything away". And Bowie is once again right: we don't need everything away. We can cople with the mystery, wait, worry, and then he gifts us with such a treasure like Blackstar

    This album will grow, and grow, and grow on us. Happy birthday, master!
    Full Review »
  2. MnM
    Jan 9, 2016
    0
    A nearly unlistenable, cacophonic piece of garbage. If Bowie's name wasn't attached to it, the release would have been forgotten the minute itA nearly unlistenable, cacophonic piece of garbage. If Bowie's name wasn't attached to it, the release would have been forgotten the minute it was released. Full Review »
  3. Jan 10, 2016
    2
    The trouble with artists as revered as Bowie is that they are lionized to such a degree that many critics and fans alike lap up anything theyThe trouble with artists as revered as Bowie is that they are lionized to such a degree that many critics and fans alike lap up anything they offer and ask for more.

    This is a virtually unlistenable album masquerading as high art.
    Full Review »