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Not as bad as people want you to believe
on 16 December 2016
This album has quite a reputation and it does not help that even Numan himself openly calls it "s***". Call me a die hard fan or whatever, but this is far from being as bad as everyone says it is. Once you forget you're listening to an album made by Gary Numan, it's overall an album with very catchy songs.
Sure, some of the lyrics may sound uninspired, but then again, Numan felt completely lost at the time so it was almost a miracle he actually managed to produce some material back then. "The Skin Game" stands out from the rest of the album because of its weird mix of genres, yet it's one of my favourite songs. Its lyrics also express the way Numan felt about the music industry back then, so it's full of disgust and despair. "Machine and Soul", "Generator", "Poison", "Cry" are very catchy as well. "I wonder" is a beautiful song which for some reason reminds me of something the Tears for Fears could have come up with (just my opinion though). "Love Isolation" is also a very beautiful ballad.
To me the real problem with this album is the track "Emotion" which doesn't really work for me. Perhaps the version Numan initially had in mind was different, regardless it just does not appeal to my ears. There are two other problems as well which can be easily explained by the fact Numan didn't write them. Yes, I am referring to the two Prince covers: "U Got the Look" and "1999" (the latter is only available as a bonus track, though). Numan confessed he never really liked doing covers, which might explain why these two don't really work either and why he basically never did any cover in the first place.
As for the bonus tracks, some of them are really good. "Cry Baby" - which is essentially an earlier version of "Cry" - is really good if not superior to the final version. "Wonder Eye" is also an earlier version of "I Wonder" except this one is a bit calmer. "Hanoi", "Dark Mountains" and "The Haunting" are essentially atmospheric tracks that resembles the ones that were on "Outland" while being very close to the atmosphere Sacrifice delivered, two years later. Finally, on some versions you'll get "In a Glasshouse" which is a very haunting track with one of the best use of female backing singers Numan has ever made.
The album itself is not bad really, if you keep an open mind. It has a very heavy '90s vibe and it has some of the weirdest mix of genres you'll ever hear, but it's a nice album full of catchy music. Plus, partly thanks to this album, Numan finally got back to making music for the sake of making music.
Give it a chance.