I first saw Gary Numan when he performed "Are Friends Electric" on Top Of the Pops for the first time back in 1979. He had somehow escaped my attention prior to then. I must say I was well impressed and faithfully purchased his entire back catalogue, which makes it sound more substantial than it was, and his subsequent albums. This practice ended with 1982's "I Assassin", which I only brought on the strength of the singles if truth be told. For from 1980 Mr Numan's muse was very much on the wane, in my opinion. By the mid eighties he seemed to have lost the plot completely and I really could not see the appeal of a man producing largely mid eighties dross with a nasal vocal style. At some point in the nineties I started reading that Gary Numan was "back on form" and producing vital music again. Artists like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails cited him as an influence and even the music press, who had crucified him previously, found time to praise him. What was going on?
Let me ask you a question. Do you ever get the urge to buy a CD, (or for you younger set download some music), just because you have not brought anything new for ages? I do and it was at just such a moment that I purchased a copy of "Pure", second hand off of Amazon, for a mighty three pounds including post and packaging! I figured what had I got to lose, other than three quid obviously? Turned out it was not just the best three pounds I'd spent in years but I would have been happy paying full price for it. On first listen it was pretty obvious that Mr Numan had left the robotic and nasal stuff well behind. Gone also were the ghastly female backing vocals, sax trimmings and ubiquitous fretless bass that he had become inordinately fond of. This album is very dark and atmospheric, guitar driven, through synths are still present and sounds a little like a mixture of eighties Goth and what I might term industrial light. I think Depeche Mode have been an influence in addition to the artist claiming to be influenced by Numan mentioned earlier. The songs themselves sometimes feature quiet verses with loud anthemic choruses. At first I found it a little "shouty" in places but like a lot of good music it grows on you. It has moments when it "rocks" and others when it is very delicate and ethereal. The lyrics are very dark. Numan's Wife suffered a miscarriage prior to the recording of this album and many of the songs deal with the pain they both suffered as a result. They beat the hell out of "here in my Car" any day and reveal a very human side to his music perhaps giving it an extra depth. The quality of the song writing is good from start to finish with no "fillers" to my ears.
As you must have guessed by now I love this album. If, like me, you gave up on Numan years ago then I think this album could well re-ignite your interest. It did mine.
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