Gary Numan: Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)

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gary numanGary Numan
Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind)
(Machine Music USA)

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A stompy “I Am Dust” opens Gary Numan’s Splinters (Songs From A Broken Mind), his 20th studio release. “Everything Comes Down To This” is a low tune where Numan uses his full, distinct voice, clipped metal back beat and a good, loud chorus. Dripping high plunky beats and bleeding synths run under soft Numan vocals on “The Calling” while “Splinter” sees some tribal drumming, haunting female vocals, then what sounds like live drumming, piano and Numan certainly saying something in his “I believe in…” lyrics and his backing “oh oh oh-ing.”

“Love Hurt Bleeds” slinks hard in its metallic commercial loudness, something I know we’re used to from NIN, but I feel Numan mined this area as good as (even before, possibly) Trent. I’m not dissing Trent, but there were guys like Eno, Bowie and Numan doing all this too. Playing with handclaps and a programmed backbeat, Numan sings in a wholly different register for lots of the roiling “A Shadow Falls On Me” while he’s positively pleading on “Where I Can Never Be.”

I like the ’80s John Carpenter movie soundtrack-sounding backing and stuttering vocoder vocal spikes to “We’re the Unforgiven,” Numan’s voice of course lifts things up grandly, especially in the last third over the instrument-jamming swirl. “Who Are You” is a tight, danceable tune, while some very dramatic instrumental work informs “My Last Day,” featuring again expressive Numan vocals and a nice piano coda.

Splinters (Songs From A Broken Mind) is about what you’d expect from Gary Numan…and that’s a very good thing indeed.

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