I'm never ever gonna get old," Bowie I vows in "Never Get Old." He's not the first rocker to say it, but at 56 he's as pumped as musicians born during his fourth or fifth comeback. His 26th album of new material avoids staggering under the weight of a unifying concept. Instead it's a free-ranging career summation, a musical résumé considerably more spirited than last year's ashes-to-ashes disc Heathen.
Reality is built on straight rock. "Pablo Picasso," a cover of a nonsense ditty by Jonathan Richman (sample rhyme: "Pablo Picasso never got called an a—hole"), recaptures some of the mad, swirling energy of "Suffragette City," while "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" has the grinding resignation of "Heroes." There's even a love-is-stronger-than-drugs song, "Try Some, Buy Some," that sounds like Abbey Road-era Beatles (surprise: It was written by George Harrison). Only a loopy jazz effort, "Bring Me the Disco King," as silly as its title, chokes on its clove cigarette. There isn't a knockout single here, but don't let that keep you from getting a grip on Reality.