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Album Review

Instead of returning to his groundbreaking, retro (by today's standards) synth work of the early '80s, Gary Numan tackles twitching electro-rock reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails on 1998's Exile. A comeback album of sorts, Exile does the job of proving that Numan still has what it takes to remain relevant in the '90s alternative scene, but it's not exactly the magnificent return to form that Numan fanatics were expecting prior to its release. Since he is an originator (listen to 1979's Replicas and 1980s The Pleasure Principle for the proof), it's hard to accept that Exile is so familiar-sounding to his technoid contemporaries of the '90s. Still, it seems like ages since Numan has sounded so committed on record, as heard on the single "Dominion Day," plus the tracks "Dead Heaven" and "Dark." Also included on the U.S. CD version as a bonus track is a recent live reading of his 1979 classic "Down in the Park," which showed that Numan can still nail his signature sound. Exile confirms that the great Gary Numan is close to being back on the right musical track.


Born: March 8, 1958 in Hammersmith, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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,...
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