Jagged

Studio Album by released in 2006

Jagged review

Numan revolutionizes music with every new album

One of the founding fathers of synth pop, Gary Numan's influence extends far beyond his lone American hit, Cars, which still stands as one of the defining new wave singles. That seminal track helped usher in the synth pop era on both sides of the Atlantic, especially his native U.K., where he was a genuine pop star and consistent hitmaker during the early '80s. Even after new wave had petered out, Numan's impact continued to make itself felt; his dark, paranoid vision, theatrically icy alien persona, and clinical, robotic sound were echoed strongly in the work of many goth rock and (especially) industrial artists to come. Powerful, deep, hot and cold at the same time Numan revolutionizes music with every new album. One thing you have to admire is the longevity of his existence. 25 years on and although Jagged is his first studio album in 5 years the magic spark is still very much there. Co-produced with underground electronic artist Ade Fenton, Jagged is an aggressive, forward-looking album, which takes the best elements of Numan's previous work and gives them an anthemic, contemporary twist. It's a reassuringly dark slab of demonic electro, littered with ominous fuzzy Nine Inch Nails-style guitar/keyboards, industrial beats and of course Numan's signature alienated vocals. Slightly less direct than 2000’s Pure but no less emphatic, Jagged tells reflective stories of loss, sorrow and regret.

Emptiness and emotion in the same brittle vial

Pressure announces the album with a mix of tense silence and storming synths that play with the listener's imagination like a toy. Numan's vocals and atmospheric backing harness a distant isolation that somehow equally manages to spit and writhe demonically in your face. Amidst the orchestral strains of the introduction of Halo we clearly hear Numan's renewed use of live drums, here provided by ex-Nine Inch Nails member Jerome Dillon. As the tune turns into a brash, industrial rock number the punchy kick of the drums becomes increasingly noticeable and key to the track. Slave makes the hairs on the back of your neck bristle with an eerie introduction; the echoing vocals and lyrics instantly conjure up theatrical images and the cracking synth sounds stir up your nerves. A stark haunting affair, In A Dark Place has a cataclysmic chorus that smashes through the tender, bare vocal harmonies that go before it; while Haunted's riff wouldn't be out of place in an epic nu-metal killer track. The razorblade synth sounds and resonating vocals on tracks like Blind perhaps best showcase the way in which Numan captures emptiness and emotion in the same brittle vial and pours them into an amazing song. Finally closer and title track, Jagged brings the album to a close in a particularly powerful way; intimate forceful whispers between the lines of sultry, brooding melody create an especially vicious and captivating track.

Jagged is a bleak emotional holocaust of an album

From Detroit techno pioneer Juan Atkins to the likes of Marilyn Manson, Beck, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Prodigy and Trent Reznor, numerous contemporary artists have acknowledged Numan's role in their musical formation. The second coming of Gary Numan shows no signs of flagging or relenting. Jagged is further evidence of his exceptional ability to mould and manipulate the essence of fragility into musical form. It is a bleak emotional holocaust of an album, evidencing the work of a truly precious artist whose continuing creativity should be cherished. With this being his first album release in five years, Numan reminds us just who shook the world with unearthly electro first and why we should still listen. Don't write Numan off as a musical relic or just the man who wrote Cars; this album casts him as more suitable for the role of Marilyn Manson's melodic predecessor. Perhaps though that 5 year rest has seen Gary holed up in the cybernetics factory but like a man machine this is one android that you are never going to see the back of.