Intruder is the 18th solo studio album from new wave pioneer Gary Numan, released in the UK from Friday 21st May 2021. After four decades in the music industry, Numan is well-known for working hard, constantly planning the next album, video, tour or photoshoot. At 63, he’s not slowing down at all, and this latest release proves it.
It follows on from 2017’s Savage (Songs from a Broken World) – a high concept album, telling the story of a blended world where East meets West, and those left behind from the impact of global warming live in desert lands – which achieved a #2 spot in the Official Album Chart, making it some of Numan’s best-performing work. He seems to have similar hopes for Intruder, another concept album this time focusing on the earth’s point of view. ‘It feels betrayed, hurt, and ravaged…Essentially, it considers humankind to be a virus attacking the planet‘ (Rolling Stone). Heavy stuff!
The title track, released earlier this year, depicts the earth shunning its inhabitants – humans are no longer welcome here. ‘The Earth’s angry and hostile, and more than willing to fight back‘. With the pandemic a clear influence on Numan’s themes and thinking, its industrial sound fits with his post-apocalyptic view of what’s to come. Tracks A Black Sun and Is This World Not Enough are laments, apologies almost, singing their regrets that the warnings weren’t heeded. Now and Forever offers hope, while we final track The End of Dragons acts as a reminder that what’s broken can’t always be mended.
Across the 13 tracks, Numan’s wistful, angry, sombre lyrics warn of bigger, badder things to come, partnered with heavy synths and haunting backing vocals. As someone who knows Numan for singles Cars and Are ‘Friends’ Electric? (both 1979), as part of Tubeway Army, it was a surprise to hear an album so ‘post-future’ – but I guess his work in the late 70s and 80s was ahead of its time, too.
For Numan fans – especially those of his more recent albums, or anyone who enjoys bold, theatrical concept albums – Intruder is a solid record to add to the collection. For those unfamiliar with his latest pieces (like me), I’m afraid this probably isn’t for you. Listening to it in one sitting, no one track felt like it reached out to me, or really made an impact; it felt like they all blended into one, with Intruder the stand-out purely because of recent radio plays. I’ll give it credit though – this would’ve been a fantastic soundtrack to Blade Runner, with all of its eerie machine rumbles and thumping bass.
I can’t fault Gary, he’s a legendary artist making music that means a lot to his fans. Intruder will definitely make so many people very happy – it just wasn’t for me.
No matter what he releases in the 21st century he will be forever known for his old material by the mainstream. The obsessive cult fanbase will always be there to praise him and support him financially. To me he’s always come across humorously as a cult leader rather than a musician but if the fans love him then so be it.
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