Dan MacIntosh Review: Gary Numan Gives Us Reasons to be Very Afraid with ‘Intruder’

Gary Numan - Courtesy

– By DAN MACINTOSH

– In the ’80s, the heyday of Gothic music, the genre’s songs were created during the last nervous days of the Cold War. Yes, some of the despair was personal and psychological. However, whether spoken or unspoken, proponents of this dark style drew much of their doomsday dread from the real possibility that the world would be destroyed in a nuclear war. 

While the relationship between U.S. and the former U.S.S.R has since warmed significantly (even though Russia is still not a great friend to the United States), and there’s still the chance for a nuclear battle (more from North Korea and Iran, these days), you just don’t hear much about fear of nuclear holocaust on the news or in today’s Gothic music. However, with Intruder, Gary Numan has given us new reasons to be afraid — very afraid.

Like Greta Thunberg with a synthesizer and while not technically considered a Goth pioneer, Numan has created an album full of climate change panic. No, Numan was not a Goth, at least not in the same way Bauhaus and Sisters Of Mercy were, but he was nevertheless a glass-half-empty kind of artist. 

To his credit, the lyrics on Intruder are not filled with simplistic Al Gore-like sloganeering. Instead, Numan has written songs that will resonate with environmentalists, as well as pleasing fans of just plain good, depressing songwriting. And knowing Numan’s lyrical intentions for the project gives new power to a song like “I Am Screaming.” It’s a lyric about loss and regret, and presumably concerns many of the experiences one can no longer engage in on this rapidly decaying and dying planet. 

Gary Numan is touring, get tickets here.

Sonically, Numan creates atmospheres that sound like the electronic music one often hears in action movies and sci-fi films. The album’s title track, for example, jerks and clanks with electronic precision. The sound is more robust and bottom-heavy than, say, Numan’s breakthrough hit song, “Cars.” There are also tracks that are less technologically based on the album, too. One titled “A Black Sun,” for example, is built around acoustic piano and sounds like a tearjerker The Smiths B-side. 

Even with musical soundscapes that have modernized significantly since his Tubeway Army and early solo recording days, Numan’s unique singing voice stilly sounds amazingly the same as it always has. He sings with a squeaky, pained voice, which is perfectly suited to the global tragedy saturating these new recordings. He’s not a particularly pleasing vocalist, but his unusual singing consistently fits the dark subject matter he sings about.

There will always be reasons to think bad thoughts, whether you buy into the impending earth environmental disaster or not. No matter how you view the planet’s future, however, it is heartening to hear Gary Numan creating inspired music. Maybe he’s woke-ly driving an electric car these days, but he’s still creating inviting sounds. 

Check out ‘Intruder’ by Gary Numan here: