CD Review: Gary Numan, “Dead Son Rising”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

The influencer becomes the influenced as Gary Numan’s new album sounds just like a classic electronic disc from more than a decade ago.

Where to start with Gary Numan? I mean, we’re talking a pioneer of electronic music. This is the guy that put a commercial spin on otherwise harsh music and made it listenable for the masses and in the last three decades you could probably name 100 groups influenced by him. But quick, name the last record he put out that was great from front to back? As I’m here talking about his 21st album it seems odd to say that it was 1980’s Telekon but hell, unless you are a dedicated fan of his, you might not even know he’s still making music.

For at least the last decade to decade and a half it has felt that Gary Numan was simply two steps behind the pack with each album. Every record had a handful of good tracks on them but he has put out some terribly boring tunes over the years as well. It seems less about being a pioneer these days and more about fitting into the times of which he still seems to have relatively little clue as to what’s going to work for him. But I’m not sure that I should be expecting anything really new and inovative from him. He’s 53, had his moment in the sun and is still rockin’ to his own BPMs. However, I do think that for someone with so much talent, something better has to be inside him.

Dead Son Rising is somewhere in the middle of all the things I’ve just said. Apparently parts of all these songs were written for other records and have taken a new path since their inception. Of the 11 tracks you have two instrumentals, two versions of “Not the Love We Dream Of” and two of “For the Rest of My Life.” There are some big time rock moments on the album, like “Big Noise Transmission” and “The Fall” but it’s balanced out by some mellow and atmospheric tunes like the instrumental “Into Battle” and either version of “Not the Love We Dream Of.”

Dead Son Rising is by leaps and bounds the best record he’s put out in decades. It’s certainly very listenable for fans of electronic music and the disc flows extremely well. But the part I just can’t get out of my head is that this is pretty much Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. I mean, it’s uncanny how much of a clone this is to the NIN classic. A case of the influencer now being the influenced. Even the one point it doesn’t (“Big Noise Transmission”) starts off as pretty much a re-write of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” which of course Trent Reznor was in the mix for. And this is the part I’m really torn on. The album is pretty damn fantastic and I’m sticking by that but does it lose points because it’s so incredibly similar and thus really dated? I’m a huge Nine Inch Nails fan which is certainly why I enjoy the record as much as I do and I keep thinking to myself that I wish every new Gary Numan record sounded like this so I must be alright with it. But what I’d really like to hear is what Trent thinks of it. Eh, time to go back and listen to the two records back-to-back and get three hours worth of electronic bliss. I’ll forget it’s 2011 for a moment.

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