Album review: Gary Numan’s ‘Dead Son Rising’

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Best known for the 1979 New Wave staple “Cars,” this synth-rock trailblazer is in the midst of a next-gen resurgence thanks in part to recent collaborations with Nine Inch Nails and the arty Brooklyn band Battles. (Hit up YouTube for Numan’s deadpan performance in the video for Battles’ “My Machines,” which he sings.) So on his first studio album since 2006, you’d expect Numan to capitalize on that newfound currency by distilling his vision to its goth-futurist essence. No such luck: Even at a relatively tidy 11 tracks (including one reprise), “Dead Son Rising” feels watery and without a center; it reinforces Numan’s legacy, rather than his potential.

A few tracks provide a glimmer of what might have been: In “For the Rest of My Life” a low, grinding keyboard riff sets off Numan’s disarmingly vulnerable singing, while “The Fall” is as effective a Nine Inch Nails facsimile as anyone has come up with since Trent Reznor turned his attention to scoring films. (Elsewhere, “Big Noise Transmission” brandishes an appealingly squelchy bass groove — at least until the goofy rap-rock guitars start up.) But beyond those highlights “Dead Son Rising” mostly blands out into industrial-gloom utility: dystopia minus the drama.

Gary Numan
“Dead Son Rising”
One and a half stars (Out of four)


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Gary Numan straddles the vintage and the new

—Mikael Wood