ALBUM EAGLE, PLAYGROUND
RELEASE: OCTOBER 10, 2000, OCTOBER 16, 2000 (SCANDINAVIA), OCTOBER 30, 2000 (NORTH AMERICA) REVIEW: OCTOBER 13,
Like many others, I counted Gary Numan out a long time ago. I've also
listened to my share of his first epochal trio of albums, and then seen his
later records slip into the same stiff, formulated funk pop sound like too
many other artists in the 80's. The fact that he supported that evil master
of social disaster Margaret Thatcher, hasn't made it easier to know what to
really make out of him.
But having been ignored or mocked in equal parts for about 15 years, Numan
suddenly gained new status in the late 90's, with everyone from Fear Factory
to Saint Etienne to Armand van Helden having paid tribute to him in the last
couple of years. And now that he once again has the eyes of the world on
him, he seems to have made up his mind to put his all into the making of his
new album "Pure".
Gary Numan's last album, "Exile", is rumoured to be excellent, but I totally
missed out on that when it was released. "Pure", however, is, if not a
masterpiece, without doubt a huge step in the right direction. Immersing
himself in the industrial rock sound he himself has helped to create, the
first few listens suggested that Numan had only made a lame attempt at
jumping a trend that didn't really suit him. But after repeated listening,
the nuances and the strong songs become more and more apparent. The sound
might not be original - it is the same meeting between grinding guitars,
dance beats and atmospheric electronics that has been heard a thousand times
before - but what sets this out as a good album is Numan's song writing
That and his voice. He doesn't let it loose in the fabulous, trademark wail
as often as in his heyday, but it nevertheless sounds full of youth and
emotion. It adds an invaluable extra touch to the album's swings between
hard edged electro rock and the heart piercing sorrow of "A Prayer for the
Unborn", a lament over the miscarriage Numan's wife recently suffered.
"Pure" is a personal album, far from both the geeky sci-fi fantasies of
Numan's early outings ("Down in the Park" is an irresistible song, but it is
a bit silly), and the macho tendencies of part of the industrial scene. And
it feels good to see an old icon on the right path again.