Gary Numan – Jagged

Metropolis (MET413)

At the time of Gary Numan?s U.K. commercial breakthrough in the late 1970s (?Cars,? ?We Are Glass?) he was a man scorned by critics for his chilly, electronic soundscapes. After giving up live performances in 1981, which resulted in a considerably lower profile, Numan went on to release a steady stream of albums to little fanfare. Numan began an artistic rebirth of sorts in the late 1990s, garnering the kind of reviews that largely eluded him in the past.

Jagged doesn?t deviate from Numan?s trademark sound. The album?s opening track, ?Pressure,? sounds icy, menacing and ghostly at once, and the song?s despairing feel is a fitting representation of everything that follows. Numan?s introverted persona is stamped all over his work. His music, dominated by icy synthesizers, not to mention those android vocals, has always suggested alienation (here, fuzzy guitar riffs add some edge to the proceedings), but as the title of one of these tunes goes, Numan is ?In A Dark Place.? In the brooding ?Melt? he sings ?Sometimes I wonder if God laughs at me/I hear his voice when I sleep? while ?Blind,? with its hushed verses and soaring chorus, finds him lamenting, ?I stumble/In the depths of my sin/On my knees/I?m a sick man drowning.?

The album?s lack of diversity is its greatest flaw, and musically and thematically these songs are nothing if not consistent. In the end, the overall effect of Jagged?s futuristic chill is downright numbing.

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