It’s a sad state of affairs when an innovator starts copying the bands he influenced so highly. Twenty years from his emergence with the boundary crossing niche-defining electro classic “Cars”, a paen to isolation and commercial gain, he’s just been hijacked by Garage-house abomination Armand Van Helden for a Number one hit in “Koochy”, built entirely around the riff to cars. The oldskool from Fear Factory to Marilyn Manson to Nine Inch Nails all think he’s cool, and have all covered his songs. However, unlike Kraftwerk, who remain musically enigmatic and adored, Gary Numan remains universally reviled. On the basis of this CD, he will never be cool.
Its not his real name you know. Gary Webb doesn’t sound so futuristic though does it? Nope, go gary Numan it is. (Newman? How I laughed. Hardly. He’s not a new man by any stretch of the imagination. what with his own private airplane and tory voting cronies). When he started off he stated that “I was just a guitarist that played keyboards. I just turned punk songs into electronic songs”. Now, he’s gone full circle and it shows. Though he started off as a highly influential new romantic artist, now he’s gone back to his guitar roots. Much as bands like NIN and Marilyn Manson claim him as hugely influential, he’s now taken to jumping on the guitar led industrial bandwagon that these bands started .After all, he didn’t see NIN at Brixton in 99 for nothing, except to pick up some good tips did he? It shows that he started off as a guitarist because he’s never been able to escape it.
The spontaneity that fuelled his electronic direction : he saw a keyboard in the studio, it made a funny noise, a funny noise became the central riff of cars, now seems completely absent. That alone shows what a chancer he is. Working at his home studio (Alien studios ,oh how futuristic a name that is, it so positively dated now), this album seems to think to itself “oh, hang on, Marilyn Manson made his millions by ripping me off, so did Nine Inch nails, and Fear Factory – fuck it! I want some of that dough.”
So he makes an industrial metal album. Clangy icily cold, detached vocals. Chunky metal guitars that try to sound like Marilyn Manson, but instead come off like a poor mans Die Krupps or Steril or Haujobb, or any other of a thousand derivative teutonic faceless German industrial bands. The creativity and innovation of twenty years ago now means he’s trading off third hand ideas, ripping off the bands that ripped him off in the first place.
The whole album seemed calculated for maximum commercial impact, to cash in on a genre he didn’t create 20 years ago, but one that bands like Ministry took, improved, bastardised and made their own. But it’s not enough. It lacks the honesty. From the obviously dyed hair and the supremely conceited crucifixion pose on the front of the CD, this is an album dripping with insincerity and crass calculated cynicism. The oh so pained, I’m such a king of pain photos in the booklet, backlit by sepia photography of clouds. Song titles like “One perfect lie”, such lyrics “I want to feel you touch my pain, I want to drown in your misery”, and then ripping off the chorus to Nine Inch Nails “Sanctified” in the chorus of the obvious single of the album (Numan: “hey bitch…Purified, Sanctificed.I want to feel your innocence” - NIN: “you make me purified, you make me sancified”), or even more ridiculous lines such as “My Jesus is a collector of pain…your pain will prove that you love me”, followed by a hackneyed anti-religion trip such as “Listen to my voice” – sample lyrics “the one you call the messiah is a lie”. Didn’t Skinny Puppy do this ten years ago, and didn’t it seem laughable then didn’t it?
A risible, cynical and ridiculous album, one with his commercial aspirations for the US new metal crowd to which he may as well get on his knees and beg “please buy this record”. If its like any other records, its like a too little too late move for critical acceptance, much like Twos’ “Voyeurs”, the industrial metal album by ex-cockrockers Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford with Marilyn Manson guitarist john5. However, unlike that successful album which was at least interesting, this album shows no new musical palette for Gary Numan at all. Its as honest as the spice girls, a brash crass cash-in for the nu-metal scene.
Let’s give this king of pain something to moan about. Lets tax petrol for his private plane at 4000%, make sure the Tories don’t get in next time, and enact a law that states he should make original music, not reheated rehashes of the last Nine Inch Nails album, devoid of originality and talent. Avoid this CD like the plague. Musically its transparent and crass, and whilst not entirely bad (the opening “pure”, is well, okay…but that’s as nice as I can get), its nowhere near approaching good. Sorry Mr Webb, perhaps its not a coincidence that he shares the surname Webb with Cliff Richard. Hmmm, wonder what that means?
I’d give this CD away to charity, but then of course, some sucker would be duped into paying for it. Next time I get a CD, I expect there to be some music on it, not a crass cash-in. I might as well be listening to “industrial metal plays kylie” for all the artistic integrity of this rip off.Now I’m off to find a oxyacetalene torch and discover at what point CDs makes ashtrays. I think 20 minutes at gas mark 6 should do it, don’t yer think?
2Graham Reed's Score