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the Pain Principle
on 18 February 2009
In the mighty history of rock music and all its joys and glories, there has never been any-one as completely out of touch and hapless as Gary Numan.
Fat and futile, Numan represents in a single human form, everything that's wrong, and ever has been wrong, with popular music. Clunk-headed and entirely cretinous (whether crashing his plane in India and getting arrested for spying, or marrying his stalker), he is a career loser. Lacking soul, warmth, or even God help us, humanity, his miserable drones reveal better than any review the true depths of defeat and hopelessness he plumbs.
His contemporaries thrashed him outta sight: OMD, Eyeless in Gaza, Trio, even gimpy cruds like Blancmange kicked his rump effortlessly - but then they all had tunes, a modicum of humour and weren't solemnly and indignantly pretending they were 'futuristic'.
Futuristic!? This stuff set music back 20 years, it was as if punk had never happened. Dressed in what looked like a DS9 leisure suit, and with a voice so nasal it made Kenneth Williams sound like James Earl Jones, Gazza went on and on and on.... croaking incessantly about sub-Arthur C Clarke themes like alienation in (gulp!) the 'modern' world, dehumanising mechanization, space (the final frontier etc.. not the stuff between his ears!), bio-chemistry and the like - you get the picture.
Write down the most boring, nerdy topics you can think of and within an hour you'll have a pretty comprehensive and astute summation of 'The Pleasure Principle'.
Ever the space-cadet with the intellectual capacity of a weather-balloon, Gazza would have us believe he's some kind of proto-new wave Mr Spock, but in reality, he's more aligned with Kowalski out of 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'; bashed with a spanner every week, but relentlessly returning to stupidly get bashed again.
You can be too serious about this electro stuff; it had a bad rep as cloying and un-emotive, but others managed it ok. It was only Gazza who made himself a Holy Show with his Billy Idol snarl and short-circuited robo-dancing.
Begrudgingly, 'Complex' has the foetus of a good tune, soon lasered away by the unnecessarily brutal 'Metal'; smothered to death by Gazza's parachute in the guise of the hideous 'Random' and wait 'til you hear the live version of 'Me, I Disconnect From You', a fun-packed extravaganza of doom and horror guaranteed to forever shift your aunt (y'know, the rich one, the one leaving all her money to the Battersea Dogs Home and none to you!) when she decides to descend on your front room, tea, and scones.
Get those samples going, you don't need to hear the full album to experience the despondency and it's saying something when your brave-heart reviewer had to physically stop his ears oscillating, such was the feeling of discomfort and unease brought about by a cover version of 'On Broadway' - the final cankerous catastrophe.
This review could apply to any of Gary Numans albums as they're all as bad as each other.