It's weird that someone usually so passionately anti-minimal as Barnbrook would do something all white & grotesque. On the other hand it's not very good for a minimal site.
Having revisited the site a few times through the course of the day, my initial "it's not bad" response has changed somewhat — I have to agree that the execution isn't terribly good.
There are some things I like in theory about it: the new typeface can look quite nice (esp. in the lighter-weight body settings — though some renderings don't look very well hinted), and the colour scheme of the site feels really nice. I like the idea of the large-scale images (though many of them are compressed beyond belief).
The nav bar is, as already mentioned, pretty clunky — esp on touch screens. I really don't like the presentation of inactive menu items — if they don't work, don't use them.
Despite how much of the site looks mobile-ready, it's a pain on iPhone yet feels “inflated” on iPad.
The “article” pages look like a frames site, but with better type than we had available during frames days.
The media index pages are typographically *beautiful*, but sloppy in terms of layout.
I really want to like the site, but ultimately it feels half-baked (I did see that it isn't complete yet, but I don't expect the design to change drastically if at all). It really seems like some fantastic concepts went into the project, but they're quite marred in execution.
I will say, however, that although Barnbrook isn't known as widely for it, he and his studio have done some spectacularly restrained, minimal graphic design work. Check out the Blain|Southern, Dignity, Damien Hirst: Pharmacy Restaurant, Mori Arts Centre and Shiseido projects on the Barnbrook website — they're exquisite.
(This to say I don't think Barnbrook is necessarily anti-minimalism or whatnot; to me, the Bowie website feels like something just went wrong between concept and execution.)
Thanks for your feedback! Team Branch