There is no question that it is hard to objectively analyse a posthumously released album by someone as big as David Bowie. Does the audience want to hear something new? Something classic? What are these impossible expectations? It probably is to expect something that surprises, yet brings back the memories. For some sort of fresh sense of nostalgia. No Plan is without doubt full of this feeling.
All of the four tracks of the album have already been released in October 2016 as a part of the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Lazarus (Original Cast Recording) in CD and LP. No Plan, on the other hand, is a digital EP, with all of its songs recorded during the Blackstar sessions, but which except ‘Lazarus’, were not featured in the latter album.
Very generally, No Plan does not sound new and groundbreaking; it is very much an album by an old rock star, for better or for worse. At the same time, it is also very clear that this particular old rock star is indeed David Bowie. From the asymmetric rhythmical and melodic structures to the painfully clear instrumentation and vocals, the album is perfect for all the fans to reminisce to.
It is dark and almost apocalyptic; it is mature and, most strikingly of all, very clear in its textures. Whether it is a rather heavy ‘Killing a Little Time’ or sentimental ‘No Plan’, there seems to be no more experiment, only an appreciation for sound and rhythm; there is no more rush or excitement, only patience for each word to echo in the stage of a theatre. After all, the spectacle was always the ultimate goal for Bowie.
In conclusion, No Plan is another extension of the goodbye to a rock legend; nothing more and nothing less. It is music of high quality but it is not a masterpiece. Essentially, every time someone as significant passes away, similar questions arise to all music lovers. In this particular case, asking whether this album is worth listening to is the same as simply asking: to Bowie or not to Bowie?