Iso/Columbia - 2003 - 49 minutes

Bowie has described 'Reality' as "built to play live". A response, the first time you hear the clinical production, could be, "yes, in the mid-80s, on a stage with green lasers and a backing band with mullets". But 'Reality' is a grower and continues the forward momentum of last year's 'Heathen'.

Half the fun with Bowie's records is the civil war that breaks out about where they should rank in terms of his other albums. This, his 26th, is up at the business end of the scale. While there's nothing to match the drama of 'I Would Be Your Slave', or the title track from 'Heathen', the rockier feel throws up plenty of too cool moments.

In 'Never Get Old', 'Looking for Water' and - especially - 'She'll Drive the Big Car' he has a trio that deserves to be on any setlist. And for those who prefer the shade there's 'The Loneliest Guy' and 'Bring Me the Disco King'. The former will make you feel more miserable than its central character while the latter says life "wasn't worth the balance or the crumpled paper it was written on" over a sound like the glasses being collected in a jazz club.

Bowie says the nine originals songs here (there are also Jonathan Richman and George Harrison reworkings) are just a small period of writing from the start of this year and that with his own ISO imprint, he can release things as he records them. Given the countless others from his peer group that just survive on nostalgia these two admissions just make you want to stick with him. This isn't a classic, but it's built to last.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: New Killer Star - Pablo Picasso - Never Get Old - The Loneliest Guy - Looking for Water - She'll Drive the Big Car- Days - Fall Dog Bombs the Moon - Try Some, Buy Some - Reality - Bring Me the Disco King