Published Jan 08, 2017David Bowie's presence still looms in music a year removed from his passing, whether through documentaries, emojis, vinyl packaging secrets or otherwise. The arrival of No Plan brings something strictly musical to the mix on what would have been the man's 70th birthday, compiling four tracks recorded during Bowie's Blackstar sessions, three of which ended up appearing on the cast recording for his Lazarus stage show.
Taking that into consideration, No Plan will largely appeal to those who weren't as up to date on every detail of Lazarus and its soundtrack, leaving little of note for those who were. EP opener "Lazarus" remains in its original Blackstar form, having become an even more poignant and powerful song since his death.
No Plan's title track follows in the former's footsteps, with Bowie wondering, "Am I nowhere now?" from a place where he's "lost in streams of sound." It would be incredibly easy to label this as yet another "parting gift" from Bowie, but if he were unaware of his health conditions upon recording these songs, it certainly weighed on his lyrical mind.
Elsewhere, "Killing a Little Time" demonstrates the same biting jazz-rock urgency that came with Blackstar's "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)," highlighted by Mark Guiliana's creative drum fills, Ben Monder's earworm of an edgy jazz lick and Bowie's chorus harmonies. "When I Met You" is No Plan's weakest offering musically, yet stands as a pleasant closer in providing some soft-rocking musings on how love can change someone.
One would hope the plan for Bowie going forward would be for him to avoid falling into the category of "rock icon with innumerable posthumous releases," but thankfully for listeners, the music on No Plan holds up. (Columbia)