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Better times ahead for Mr Numan
on 12 February 2006
This albums predecessor was the slick hard hitting electro pop funk of 1988's Metal Rhythm. Although in some ways Metal Rhythm continued to divide Numan's fans. On one side, some were still longing for the darker analogue synths of old. On the other side many reckoned it to be his best effort yet! So where to go next?
With Numan retreating into his new built home studio (which gave this album it's name: Outland) perhaps we could expect some tech-heavy things. With sequencers and samplers aplenty, in some ways this is what we got, but not quite. They are there, but they are buried under all the overdubs.
Maybe the new heavy funk direction would be turned up a bit. The Prince like diva vocals and chick a lickin' guitars are there, but without the heavyweight production budget, we don't quite get them properly either.
Maybe Numan, alone, without anyone looking over his shoulder, would indulge into some of the heart wrenching songwriting or pop suss we all know he can be capable of. But with the hits drying up and his fans divided anyway, his confidence sliding, we don't get that either. Here Numan leans far too heavily on others ideas, Prince, Cameo, Janet Jackson to name a few, to let his own personality shine through.
Even his record company weren't sure where to go. As a result the album was re-altered, re-edited and overdubbed into oblivion. The finish, sounding far too tinny and over produced.
Perhaps if any of these areas had been tackled in a whole hearted manner, although opinion would inevitably have been divided, it may have been a stronger piece.
As it stands, Outland tries so hard to please all of the people all of the time, mostly it fails in every corner.
Never mind. There were better times ahead. If you're a Numan bystander either go for the earlier stuff (Pleasure Principle etc) or the later stuff (Jagged or Pure).
Only hardcore fans may find anything of real interest here.