Savage (Songs From a Broken World) comes 40 years into Gary Numan’s musical career, four years after Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) and soon after receiving an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award For Songwriting And Composition, so at this point, it is safe to count Numan as a prestige act rather than a vital player with something to prove.
As long as it sounds modern and has a workable concept, you would expect to be in safe hands with an operator as masterful as Numan, so it reassuring that the blurb tells us that:
“Savage (Songs From a Broken World) is an album with a narrative that’s set in an apocalyptic, post-global warming Earth in the not-too-distant future. There is no technology left and most of the planet has turned to a desolate desert wasteland. Food is scarce, water even more so and human kindness and decency are just a dim and distant memory.”
‘Ghost Nation’ sets the tone with a brooding menace in the style of minimalist Nine Inch Nails and with Numan’s distinctive voice telling the story with a mixture of disappointment and resignation. ‘Bed Of Thorns’ hummable chorus is followed by the gothic lead single ‘My Name Is Ruin’ with its eastern influence and unmistakably Numanoid synth lines. The industrial funk of ‘When The World Comes Apart’ and the Blade Runnerisms of ‘Broken’ bookend an unrelentingly bleak second half of the record.
If you are purchasing the venerable Londoners 22nd album then you won’t need much of an explanation about it. More likely, you are hoping for a hook to grab you and, aside from the dystopian concept, there is plenty here to entertain. It won’t knock those Tubeway Army era tunes off your playlists but Savage (Songs From a Broken World) is a high-quality endeavour. The beats and synths sound fresh, and the songs are as good as those his surviving peers, like Midge Ure and Depeche Mode, are producing. Numan turns 60 in a few months so we can’t expect him to be innovating. Like Bowie before him, it’s enough that he’s not being boring. Savage (Songs From a Broken World) is not going to change anyone’s opinion on Numan. It sounds like you would expect; overblown, bleak, absorbing and atmospheric, it sounds like the platonic ideal of Numan without rendering itself indispensable.
Savage (Songs from a Broken World) is available via iTunes.