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Albums Of The Week: Gary Numan | Intruder

The Earth is out to get us in the synth-rock pioneer's latest dystopian concept disc.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Intruder is the iconic Gary Numan’s 18th solo studio album and the followup 2017’s Savage: Songs From A Broken World, which became his highest charting set in almost 40 years when it debuted at #2 in the U.K. Whereas Savage depicted Earth as a barren wasteland in which humanity and culture had been largely crushed by the effects of global warming, Intruder presents a fresh but complementary narrative. It’s a philosophical examination of a potential future apocalypse: The planet can only survive by purging its inhabitants.

Numan explains: “Intruder looks at climate change from the planet’s point of view. If Earth could speak, and feel things the way we do, what would it say? How would it feel? The songs, for the most part, attempt to be that voice, or at least try to express what I believe the earth must feel at the moment. The planet sees us as its children now grown into callous selfishness, with a total disregard for its well-being. It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back. Essentially, it considers humankind to be a virus attacking the planet. Climate change is the undeniable sign of the Earth saying enough is enough, and finally doing what it needs to do to get rid of us and explaining why it feels it has to do it.”

The title track and lead single provide a tantalising taster of what to expect. As austere synths loom like shadows and industrial beats are detonated, Numan’s beguiling hook towers like a beacon in the darkness. It’s visionary, fierce and fascinating: three traits that have become hallmarks of the musician’s influential career. The song, he says, finds “the Earth angry and hostile, and more than willing to fight back.” Partially written and recorded during lockdown, it’s no surprise that current circumstances have been assimilated into its themes. It’s especially evident in The Gift, which evolves from a sparse introduction into a resonant Middle Eastern sonic motif. It imagines Covid-19 as the first weapon that the planet deploys in order to eradicate mankind and once again flourish.

While anger and vengeance rage in its opening chapters, Intruder charts a wider spectrum of emotions. Is This World Not Enough and A Black Sun exude regret and then despair that this fate could’ve been avoided. The finale presents a black-hearted double-bill to bring the curtain down on the tale. First Now And Forever offers a hope of eternity in the end days during its theatrical intensity, before the sparse, sorrowful The End Of Dragons ends on the chilling reminder that what’s broken can’t always be fixed.

Intruder was recorded between sessions at Numan’s home studio in Los Angeles and at producer Ade Fenton’s studio in Bath. It represents their fifth studio album together, after Jagged (2006), Dead Sun Rising (2011), Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) (2013) and Savage (Songs From A Broken World) (2017).

Since coming to prominence with era-defining hits such as Cars and Are Friends’ Electric? (with Tubeway Army), Gary Numan has remained consistently creative and released a huge catalogue of work. His impact on electronic and alternative music has been hailed by pioneers such as Prince, David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails and remains impactful today, with Kanye West and Lady Gaga both crediting him as an influence. He was rewarded with the prestigious Inspiration Award at the Ivor Novellos in 2017 and shared his remarkable story with 2020’s candid autobiography (R)evolution.”