Essential New Music: Gary Numan’s “Savage (Songs From A Broken World)”

What kind of animal species dooms itself to its own extinction? It’s a cold, clinical question that synth-rock pioneer Gary Numan poses on his first album in nearly four years, a dark, post-apocalyptic imagining of ragtag remnants of humanity intended as a 10-track cautionary tale of the effects of today’s short-sighted, profit-motivated climate-change denial. It opens on the burbling Skinny Puppy-retro rumble of “Ghost Nation,” sketching a scattered, desert-bound society that “not even God remembers.” And it just gets more dreary and dystopian, over the Middle Eastern filigreed “Bed Of Thorns,” a buzzing Book Of Eli-referencing “My Name Is Ruin,” the Wagnerian wall-of-keyboards “When The World Comes Apart” and slow, funereal march “Mercy,” which warns, “Be careful what you wish for.” Call it the musical equivalent of Cormac McCarthy’s similarly brutal The Road. Numan offers no easy solutions, just an uncomfortably possible future.

Tom Lanham

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