Gary Numan – Dead Son Rising (2011)

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More Nine Inch Nails than “Cars,” Gary Numan’s Dead Son Rising is a smeared, squelchy outburst of guitar noise, weird psychodrama, face-slap beats and visceral emotion — bringing in the attitude of his famous 1980s New Wave hit, but in a completely modern context.

That’s perhaps best heard amongst the billowing noise of “The Fall,” a memorably hooky confluence of guitar and synth. Elsewhere on Dead Son Rising, which saw its U.S. release from Mortal Records on Tuesday, Numan hits a series of pleasing keyboard scronks and bleets on “Resurrection,” constructs a towering elegiac sadness on the title track, traverses an emotionally desolate Eno-esque thump on “Into Battle,” then offers an even more striking vulnerability on quietly effective “For the Rest of My Life.” But “The Fall” might be the album’s best combination of what we all remember about Numan (the proto-goth black-nailed dystopia, the herky-jerky synths, those piercingly empty eyes) with a smartly challenging next-gen edge.

The result: Dead Son Rising is easily Numan’s most consistently intriguing album in ages, even with the overt nods to NIN. (After all, Trent Reznor can’t be bothered to work much outside of film scores, anyway. This might just be as close as you are going to get for a while.) It’s more rhythmically complex, more aggressive, and yet just as anthematic as anything Numan has done lately.

Dead Son Rising, Numan’s first studio effort since 2006, is actually part of a recent creative outburst, beginning with his collaboration from earlier this year with Battles on the perfectly deadpan “My Machines.” Numan says a follow-up album called Splinter will be finished by April and released thereafter.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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