By Lorraine Kay
It’s been a long time since Gary Numan’s hit “Cars” and a lot of recordings, but the long awaited CD “Jagged” is sure to become a classic with every track strong and thought provoking. This CD brings out a side of Numan that he has been searching for and now that he has found it, he plans to stick with it. The entire CD has the feel of a black and white, kind of artsy European film with a lot of scenes in dark narrow streets. And as each song builds you are just sure that some baddie in a long black coat is going to jump out and do you in.
Dark and powerful, Numan’s vocals are out in front of some incredibly tight instrumental arrangements. This CD is a must for any Numan fan and anyone that is a fan of this genre of rock and roll.
Track by track review:
1. Pressure – This powerful and percussive this song weaves in and out from soft and mysterious to punch-me-in-the-face drums and bass with a strong enough beat to be danceable.
2. Fold – This one is soft, gentle and melodic for the most part after a long intro and builds gradually to a more aggressive refrain with some interesting breaks and a big finish.
3. Halo – Coming out of the gate slowly with a slight industrial feel to it, when it does get started it just jumps up in your face with a driving rhythm section. A stream of questions, this song asks questions for which there are no answers. But that is okay.
4. Slave – Taking a step away from the driving rhythm of the former tracks, this one starts off rhythmically, but with a subtle and somewhat interesting aboriginal percussive under-tones. It builds and jumps in there with the hard driving rhythm section that Numan is noted for before emerging into a vocal and synthesizer crescendo just before the end fade.
5. In A Dark Place – This track has an interesting opening, rather synchopated. The vocals open almost acapello with just percussion and a trace of a synth behind Numan’s dark vocals before exploding with full on synth chorus and multiple layers of vocals shouting out the haunting lyrics – a conversation with God. Ending abruptly with God’s rejection.
6. Haunted – Almost a follow-up of “In A Dark Place”, continuing in the theme of not being able to find salvation, this one is not as textured as the previous tracks, this one uses the fullness of synths to actually bring a slightly lighter feel to the dark lyrics.
7. Blind – Whether the box in this song is the same one in the first track “Pressure” it is hard to say. The similarity in the feel of the two songs brings the CD full circle. Starting softly it strongly jumps into the refrain. The theme recurrent in the previous two tracks about falling from grace and the depths of sin weaves through the track as well. A powerful song, it ends softly with a trace of synths somewhere.
8. Before You Hate It – The vocals just jump right in on this one. Percussion and synths play softly behind the vocals until the refrain, when it briefly crescendos and then drops out to make room for some interesting and unusual synthesized percussion before returning to the next verse. The refrain and bridge take on a stronger and even more melodic stance through to the ending.
9. Melt – Salvation is again the theme on this track. The percussion intro builds quickly as a guitar and synth slam together to support Numan’s vocals as he seems to ponder celestial things.
10. Scanner – The piano in this one adds a totally different feel to it that is not in the rest of the CD. Another brooding song the focus is entirely different as well. It is more of a love song, than anything else on the CD. This song makes promises of caring and trust. During the acapello parts and the verses, the quietness is excited by the powerful choruses.
11. Jagged – Jagged takes a bit to get started but when it does it is one of the more exciting tracks as Numan begins the vocals in a whisper in front of the strong rhythm section that builds until it becomes somewhat of a swing with a shuffle on the drums. Layers of synth tracks make it even more interesting. As much as I don’t like to compare songs by other artists it has a touch of Genesis’ “Land Of Confusion” in the final measures.
12. An Alternative version of Fold comes back as a Bonus Track. This one is more upbeat and shorter than the earlier version.