Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)by Gary Numan
Kicking off with the gritty, crunchy, and industrial stomp of "I Am Dust" and the lyrics "We were dust in a world of grim obsession," Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) first suggests that Gary Numan is really a robot after all, programmed to spit out dour songs of loneliness and despair that use words like "dust," "broken," or "lost" as much as other songwriter's use the word "the." In other words, his evolution from icy new wave to icy, dark industrial music is still stuck in gritty goth-pleasing mode, but complaining that his music is narrow is like complaining that an espresso machine just makes espresso, even if it's the best espresso on earth. Splinter isn't the best dark industrial, or even the best Numan album on earth, but it is much closer than you'd expect, pulling upon his mid-life crisis and bout with depression and making high-caliber, connectable songs out of these empty feelings. Key track "Everything Comes Down to This" sounds like a juggernaut of a Nine Inch Nails song coming over the hill with some stately, Telekon-era styled synth soaring out of this scratchy nighttime world, while "Love Hurt Bleed" is that Bowie-brand of funky that Numan occasionally indulges in, and really should indulge in more often. The swaying title track perfects the sprawling type of song that was introduced too soon on albums like 1982's I, Assassin, but the real reasons casual fans should come back for this one are the naked, minimal, and moving ballads "Lost" and "My Last Day." They round out a varied album that's only missing a "Cars," "Change Your Mind," or "Everyday I Die"-sized hook, and while Numan's work remains strictly sulky stuff destined to ruin any party, he proves he's not a robot at all on his most connectable, personal, and palpable album to date.
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- Machine Music Usa
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