For many of us, I suspect, this release corroborates David Hepworth's point that we don't love new music by our favourite artists as much as we loved their older work, even if the two are indistinguishable to a neutral listener.
What's going on here is partly a framing effect; the pre-Tin Machine era Bowie was so brilliant (including the Deram years) that anything short of one of the greatest pop singles of all time would be disappointing.
But there's something else going on. It lies in the concept of consumption capital (pdf), described by Gary Becker and George Stigler.
When we bought and listened to Bowie records in the 70s and 80s we accumulated a stock of consumption capital. And the utility we derive from this is so great that a new addition to it naturally has low marginal utility.
In other words, what we think of as consumption is, in many cases, a form of saving - something that gives us utility in future years.Just as saving builds financial capital which we can draw on in future, so spending builds up a stock of satisfaction which we can draw upon in the future.
Does anyone really think the money they spent on Hunky Dory would have been better invested in the stock market? (If you do, leave now; you're not the sort of reader I want.)
And herein lies a reason why it might be rational for young people not to save in the conventional sense of the word. In spending money, they are building consumption capital.
Now, I appreciate that youngsters today don't believe in spending money on records. But there are many types of consumption capital.Spending on holidays and nights out accumulates a stock of happy memories. Spending on guitars and music lessons gives us a stock of leisure skills which give us future satisfaction. And so on.
Of course, not all spending is a building up of useful capital. Some of it, such as an addiction to heroin or fine wine is the acquisition of the liability of expensive tastes. But my point is that high spending and low (financial) saving does not necessarily mean that people aren't preparing for the future. Our well-being today isn't increased merely by our past saving, but sometimes by our past spending.
When the financial "services" industry claims we are saving too little, it is expressing not merely crude vested interests, but perhaps bad economics too.