GARY NUMAN – The Pleasure Principle – Album Review
I love Gary Numan, as an artist and as a human.
He’s an honest, down to earth, straight talking family man who has stuck by his music beliefs for 45 years and not turned into a touring classics jukebox. The ultimate of respect is due for those few facts alone.
Gary speaks very openly about his health and the fact that he has Asperger’s. He personally sees it as a gift. All these factors that i’ve mentioned so far, make him a cool person in my eyes, before I even begin to chat about his music.
As an 8 year old who up until then had been brought up on a diet of the vocal greats such as Abba, Kenny Rogers and Charley Pride, i remember watching Kid Jensen introduce Numan on Top Of The Pops and being transfixed by his persona and hypnotised by this eerie synth music that I didn’t understand, but for some reason absolutely loved. I was too young to appreciate the term ‘surreal’, but I now appreciate that’s what I felt inside back then.
There was a futuristic kind of cool about the whole group, they were from a different beautiful dimension that I wanted to be a part of. Who else would have put the drummer in front of the band back then?
“The Pleasure Principle” was Numan’s first solo album after he transitioned from his previous band Tubeway Army.
I now appreciate this masterpiece as being one of the pivotal moments of electronic synth music, on a par of importance with other great albums from the likes of Kraftwerk & Visage, then Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode etc.
Songs like “Metal” with it’s simplistic 4 chord lead hook and “Films” with those eerie space age keyboard melodies have now become the trademark Numan sounds over his 45 year career, both are shining examples of a forward thinking genius at work.
“M.E” (which famously went on to be a massive sampled hit for Basement Jaxx) Lyrically, reflects Numan’s introspective journey as an artist and individual, grappling with questions of identity and purpose.
The album’s lead single, “Cars,” became an instant classic and remains one of Numan’s most recognisable songs. Its infectious, iconic synth riff and catchy chorus propelled it to the top of the charts, solidifying Numan’s status as a figurehead of the electronic music scene.
Beyond its commercial success, “The Pleasure Principle” is also celebrated for its depth and abstract thinking. The album explores themes of alienation, isolation, and technology’s impact on society, reflecting Numan’s fascination with science fiction and imagery.
This music has 100% stood the test of time and when you listen through this album in its entirety for the first time in a while, it just brings his level of genius home again. There’s a level of subtle, barely noticeable flange work and reverb on the Minimoog and Polymoog keyboards throughout this album which just adds a whole new dimension to the spaciness of the music for its time.
Something that impacts us as a children has a habit of sticking with us throughout our lives. This album and artist is the prime example of that theory in action for me. That’s how I feel about this guy’s music.
I will never stop appreciating this man’s songwriting, synth chord progressions and unique voice, he is still an absolutely ground-breaking recording artist at 65, there’s not many left who can hold a title like that.