Album-Review: Gary Numan – Splinter

Gary Numan’s Splinter comes after Dead Son Rising released in 2011, and follows the same path of electric, saturated darkness started in the early 90s.

Since then, every album had seemed darker, more meaningful, more painful that the previous one. As Dead Son Rising had reached the somewhat closed and selective group of my favourite albums ever, I was fearing the upcoming one more than welcoming it, feeling that nothing could be as good as its predecessor.

If I had known.

Splinter, or “Songs from a Broken Mind”, is a deeply black album, getting closer to the dark places usually only frequented by Nine Inch Nails albums. 

Funny to think that Gary Numan was among Nine Inch Nails’ prime influences, when we see how Gary Numan’s latest albums are sinking deeper and deeper into a style more and more similar to Nine Inch Nails. This shifting relationship meets its best outcome within the lyrics. Gary has been writing uneasy, awkward lyrics since 1978, inspiring Reznor’s suffocating words, which in turn gave Numan a new breath for even more disturbing, unsettling lyrics : “I don’t think I’ve ever seen your face”/“I don’t think I’ve ever heard your voice”/“I don’t think I’ve ever known your name”/“Who are you?” (“Who are You”).
This idea is oddly recurring throughout the album: it is all mainly about being in pain for someone, something you don’t identify, something you don’t know anymore. Yet being in pain. A confused, darker and darker pain. The confusion is everywhere, and the impression of being strangers to each other is omnipresent: “You don’t hear me, you don’t see me you don’t even know I’m alive, so why do you call me?” (“The Calling”) 

That feeling of being left alone, forgotten, and yet being constantly called back to this painful thing we cannot see yet cannot leave, a calling impossible to ignore, truly is one of the main themes of Splinter. 

Gary Numan calls us to places we know, we didn’t want to see again. But those places are in our head, we never really left them behind. And they never really leave us. Those places we have learnt to fear and hate, yet we cannot stop clinging onto them, for we fear without them we’re nothing.
Gary Numan calls us back to what we really are, what we are built on. What really hurts. It is somewhat an endless trip, and we can’t say the end of the album is the end of it, nor can we say breathing comes back easy afterwards.
It’s an album that leaves scars where some scars were already laying, pushing the skin deeper within, allowing us to open our eyes at last and see it.

The songs, sounds and words of Splinter constantly reminds us this album was written during a depression, and how much this can ruin down a person. Yet, Gary Numan confirmed through this hardest passage his status of key player of the alternative scene, for constantly reinventing himself, in the most honest, humble way.

Review by Marie Lando.

I Am Dust
Here In The Black
Everything Comes Down To This
The Calling

Love Hurt Bleeds

A Shadow Falls On Me
Where I Can Never Be
We’re The Unforgiven
Who Are You
My Last Day