Lodger is … the culmination of Bowie's work since Station to Station. The lyrics are far simpler and freer of symbolism than even those on Low, while vocally, Bowie maintains the desperate optimism he developed in "Heroes." In fact, the entire record shows signs of desperately trying to be upbeat, and the tone is set by the very first number, "Fantastic Voyage," where Bowie follows the line "We're learning to live with somebody's depression" with "We'll get by, I suppose." Is this an indication of Bowie's present frame of mind? The ambiance of Lodger is more purely Bowie than any of his albums in years…. (p. 35)
Lodger shows a nervous Bowie attempting to once again wade into the pop mainstream. It is composed almost entirely of songs instead of compositions, and the songs themselves reflect a revitalized interest in pop music. "Red Money" is a virtual retread of "Calling Sister Midnight," the song written by Bowie for Iggy Pop. There are strong echoes of "Hong Kong Garden" and "Psycho Killer" in "Red Sails." Bowie affects David Byrne's lyrical style in "Fantastic Voyage," and mimics his vocal style in "D.J."…
Lodger is a highly contradictory album. While it's a bit difficult to sit through the first couple of times, it becomes increasingly interesting with repeated listenings. There is a struggle for a direction here, but that direction still lingers below the surface of the album. (p. 36)
Alec Ross, "Records: 'Lodger'," in Trouser Press (copyright © 1979 by Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, Inc.), Vol. 6, No. 7, August, 1979, pp. 35-6.