GARY NUMAN Jagged (2006)
It's a long, long time ago now, but when Gary Numan first appeared on Top Of The Pops with Tubeway Army, we actually sat around the next day at school trying to decide whether or not he was actually a robot or not! Simpler times.
Of course, he was actually an electronic and industrial pioneer, and his touch is to be seen on the recordings of every single industrial act that has followed, whether they care to admit it or not. And that is a problem, not only for Mr Numan, but for every 'legend'. Where do you go next?
There's nothing sadder than an icon trying to reinvent themselves and stay current. Which is why there's a lot to be said for artists not trying - hello Andrew Eldritch! - and may be why "Jagged" is his first studio album in over five years.
But Numan has decided to go down the relevant road by recruiting underground electronic artist DJ Ade Fenton as his co-producer. At least it's a road he (and we) recognise, so ther's no bhangra beats here. What we do get is a very, very dark album which careers between the melancholy, the aggressive and the apocalyptic.
Long time fans are going to love this, but it's not going to win over many new converts. Which is a shame, because with his trademark vocal sneer married to dark beats, some live drums and driving guitars, this is his best work in a decade.
There's even some potential for chart action here with "In A Dark Place", especially, having enough links to the world of rawk to drag in a few Rammstein / Manson fans along the way. But he hasn't forgotten the synth fans who've stuck with throughout the forgotten years and they will be stroking their Sequential Fugues with icy pleasure when they hear "Blind".
Lyrically, he's not a happy bunny, but then a happy Gary Numan would be a bit silly, really. However, this is an excellent album, which will cement rather than lessen his reputation.
Review by Stuart A. Hamilton