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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Pleasure Principle

Gary Numan

1979

Buy At Rough Trade
The Pleasure Principle
Album Summary

The Pleasure Principle is the debut solo studio album by English musician Gary Numan. Released about six months after Replicas (1979), the second album with his band Tubeway Army, The Pleasure Principle reached number 1 in the United Kingdom. The Pleasure Principle has been described as featuring synth-pop and new wave throughout. Numan completely abandoned electric guitar on the album. This change, coupled with frequent use of synthetic percussion, produced the most purely electronic and robotic sound of his career. In addition to the Minimoog synthesizer employed on his previous album, Numan made liberal use of the Polymoog keyboard, particularly its distinctive "Vox Humana" preset. Other production tricks included copious amounts of flanging, phasing and reverb, plus the unusual move of including solo viola and violin parts in the arrangements. Lyrically, the album continued the science fiction-themes of the previous album. While not a theme album the way Replicas was, Numan has described the songs as "more of a collection of thoughts I'd had about the way technology was evolving and where it would take us."

Wikipedia

Rating

3.13

Votes

11864

Genres

  • Pop
  • Rock
  • New Wave

Reviews

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Mon Jun 20 2022
3

Gary Numan was created in a lab in 1977, a collaboration between MIT scientist Garry Smirnoff and singer-songwriter Randy Newman (hence the name "Garry Nu-Man", or "Gary Numan" as it came to be known.) After 2 years of neural network processing, Gary wrote and recorded The Pleasure Principle, becoming the first AI-generated entity to create a full-length, original album. (A year previously, an AI algorithm developed by a team at Stanford created an album, but it turned out to be made up entirely of Captain and Tennille cover versions, a major setback and disappointment for the team.) The Pleasure Principle became a huge success, with Cars, an ode to Gary's fellow machines, shooting to number one overnight. Sadly, Gary's success was short-lived. Like so many that came before before, Gary succumbed to the indulgences of fame and wealth. While working on its follow-up album, Gary discovered Usenet, a recently launched distributed system of computers. This sent Gary down a rabbit-hole of increasingly niche porn, culminating in a visit to a robot tentacle porn newsgroup, where it contracted a serious virus from which its handlers were unable to recover. Gary was decommissioned and sold for parts in January of 1980. Soon after that, budding music producer and talent scout Lou Pearlman was asked to find a human stand-in for the fallen AI entity in order to capitalize on the opportunity. Lou signed up-and-comer Anthony James Webb, who adopted the Gary Numan stage name and persona and is still performing to this day. Follow-up releases have paled in comparison to the original computer-generated compositions, but at least we have this classic to always remember "Garry Nu-Man" by. 3 stars.

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Mon Aug 22 2022
5

This is an extraordinary album. Difficult to overstate the influence that Numan had on music - taking electronica mainstream and paving the way for new wave, synthpop and - you might have to stretch your head around this - industrial rock and metal. One of the best, most delightful stories in music involves Numan. After a prolonged period of writers block, Numan felt himself at a loss. Nothing he tried was working, music had dried up and left him feeling a bit rubbish. And then he came across Nine Inch Nails. Listening to Reznor's work, Numan pressed some industry connections and asked if maybe he could talk to Trent at some point, thinking that he would be brushed off - after all, NIN were by this point on a massive upward trajectory on the back of The Downward Spiral. Trent Reznor heard of this and said "What, are you shitting me? I listened to Gary Numan literally every day.". Reznor wrote in support of Numan's US immigration application, and they've worked together on multiple occasions. So onto The Pleasure Principle. It is absolutely chuffing brilliant. Soaring synth, interesting and compelling bass lines, and as listen-to-able now as it would have been 43 years ago. Hooks aplenty, a legacy still cited today and genuinely new (at the time) directions in music make this a very, very worthy entry into the 1,001 albums.

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Tue Jul 05 2022
4

Dark, brooding, heavy synth rock driven by electronic riffs and a chugging rhythm section. Lyrically and musically evocative of machines, heavy industry and isolation. In 1979 Newman must have pioneered this sound. He also instantly mastered it. It still sounds fresh where many who followed in Newman's wake now sound dated. Distinctive, timeless, catchy, dark. Not a weak track on the album. I'd never heard this before, but it has to be a classic. Rating: 4.5/5 Playlist track: M.E. Date listened: 04/07/22

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Wed Sep 30 2020
5

Android. British robotic music without electric guitar. Listened 3 times in a day. Like it.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
1

Nope. Unrelentingly repetitive sine-saw-synth with atonal vocals shouting disconnected lyrics. This didn't need to exist. Hard no.

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Tue Mar 30 2021
5

Pretty solid album! I like the genre - it's good while working. The album also has famous songs (Cars, M.E.) I hadn't liked in Spotify so I'm glad I found this album! I also think it's the influence for a couple of electronic bands. There's nothing I disliked about the album really.

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Fri Apr 16 2021
5

I've heard the majority of Numan's albums, and this is the one. Absolute 80s classic. (Edit: it wasn't the 1980s yet! He set the tone for a whole decade of pop.) Coiled-spring energy of British New Wave combined with the new electro sound from USA. I love the deliberately artificial/robotic aesthetic, which would go on to be a direct influence on Detroit techno. The rhythms are a cold, mechanised version of rock, while the melodies are otherworldly synth. "M.E." turns the synth into a deep guitar sound, and is a highlight I'd slightly overlooked in the past. My only complaint is there's some minor repetition of ideas - e.g. "Observer" basically sounds like "Cars". But I don't even mind hearing that idea twice, tbh. FIVE.

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Thu Jul 15 2021
5

все верно, отец. причем ещё того, гиковского нью-вейва, близкого скорее к панку, чем к приемлемой поп-музыке. ну че сказать, меня тащит такое. вот прямо эти убер неживые жирные синты, вот этот вибрирующий космический звук. понимаю, что фанаты блюз-рока вероятно не найдут в этом себя, но мы ребята прогрессивные и тут, в России, уже достигли британских 80-х в своём сознании. Поэтому годнота, заходит такое. Для меня 9/10, хуй знает. Инструментал Asylum вообще звучит как будто современный трэп бит, под него 808 бас подложить и будет бэнгер (бля, не то шобы это круто, но просто интересная штука)

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Sat Nov 06 2021
5

I love Gary Numan's dystopian Sci Fi music. As someone who occasionally feels like a robotic alien outsider, this album speaks to me.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Excellent synth album - maybe lacks a bit of soul, but I guess that's the point...

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Wed Aug 24 2022
5

Fantastic album cover. Both in its own right but also in contrast to the flamboyant styles (especially hair) that I've come to associate with this kind of music. The more I look at it the more I love it. Buttoned down, everything grey, the only color a decidedly non-organic red pyramid. His posture and expression. The eye makeup. The non-sequitur name of the album. Perfection! I enjoyed the whole album, especially Complex, M.E., Cars (of course), Random; I found Asylum a bit distressing. All of the songs on the album feel very coherent, a pure distillation of a very specific idea about a cold increasingly non-human future. The music feels like it is driven by the beat of some alien factory floor populated by aliens shooting lasers around randomly. I'm here for it.

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Sun Aug 08 2021
4

This album is expansive and groundbreaking. Numan’s reliance on the synth does not take away from the humanity of this album and elevates synthesized music to a form on par with traditional rock instrumentation

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Thu Oct 28 2021
5

Do you like Gary Numan? Perfect album and it's influence screams out in so many acts that have followed

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Sat May 08 2021
4

This M.E. riff must have been sampled a thousand times. Clearly a groundbreaking record in its day. It feels a little like a museum piece now. It's intentionally non-organic but there are some melodies and chord progressions here that reach toward the human listening. The title of the album makes it interesting to think about how pleasurable the sounds on the album actually are. There's an antagonism there that's intriguing.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
4

12/16 Heard some Bowie "Low" in there. One of the better Synth-Pop albums I've heard. Cruising through a future where mostly everything is chrome. Standout Tracks: Airlane, Films, M.E., Conversation, Cars

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Wed Jun 23 2021
3

not bad, good mixing but repetitive at some point. I mean that song conversation is quite good for the fisrt couple of minutes but then it goes on the same for five additional ones. That cars song is a classic though (f*uck cars btw)

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Thu Jan 28 2021
1

Let's be real: the reason this was on the list is because it pioneered the ensuing electronic music movement. This isn't very good except for "Cars," which is the most known song. Bad singing and annoying repetition across every song. 2/10

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Mon Jun 21 2021
1

Let’s make music that sounds like it’s… From the FUTURE! I wonder what Gary Numan thinks of the future of music being nothing like what he seemed to envision in the late 70s and early 80s. Thank goodness new wave didn’t make more of a long-term impact. I didn’t like this. At all. My least favorite lead singer voice of the 1001 so far.

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Tue Mar 30 2021
5

i really like him and his style, I don't think i didn't like any songs, get my 5 stars!

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Tue May 11 2021
5

A landmark synth album with all those old-school bloopy tracks I crave, and also the one song that played on every Car commercial ever in the 2000s but it's not poor Gary's fault! :)

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

At first I thought, this is way ahead of its time, but DEVO’s seminal album came out the year before, so no. This was another album where I thought to myself, this is why I listen to 1001, to discover things I’ve never heard like this. But then I realized I’d definitely heard at least three of the hits on here, Films, Mr. E and In Cars, but because of the generic nature of his name, I didn’t put 2 and 2 together and I’ve written them off as one hit wonders. The songs on this are generally short and sweet. I like the sound created by the synth, guitar fix and analog drums. Good stuff, saved to library, 5.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

Sounds pretty samey but I really like that sound so it works out. At the time this was ground breaking use of those techniques. It’s still great even all those years later.

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Thu Apr 07 2022
5

I loved this album. Was only vaguely familiar with Cars, but the sense of alienation and feeling different from others that pervades the album is exactly the world I know. Both Numan and myself are on the autistic spectrum, so I totally recognize the language (musical and lyrical) that he's working from.

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Tue Sep 13 2022
5

This album is weird in the best way and doesn’t sound like anything else coming out in 1979. The synths in this song are relatively simple but amazing to listen to because they provide space for everything else to fit in. Each song feels like every element is placed perfectly into a jigsaw puzzle. Standout songs are Cars and Metal.

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Sat Sep 24 2022
5

This album was part of a specific place and a specific time in my life from which it cannot be disentangled. If it hadn't been with us then, would I love it so much now? I don't know. In any case, I do love all the spacey synths and Numan's nasally singing and the times when his voice breaks and the times when the bass drives everything forward, on and on. I can't tell if giving every song a one-word title is pretentious or its opposite. (Today, I say "opposite!" but I'm guessing if someone else did it, I'd change my mind.) I'm glad he was there then and I'm glad he's here now. Also: Cars.

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

Much better than expected. It’s definitely an experience. The music arrangements were excellent. But it’s a very specific sound, a very specific mood. Feels like a synthesizer on a cocaine bender.

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Sat Jan 22 2022
4

Thought I would hate this but it won me over. Fun and unique, didn't overstay its welcome. "Cars" is the only thing here that I've heard before. Hell, I didn't even know that Gary Numan was a musician before today. I always associated his name with acting (I am aware of Gary Oldman, not mixing the two up). Also the red prism on the album art looks mad tasty for some reason.

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Sat Sep 17 2022
4

Damn Gary, chill on the Vox Humana setting on your Polymoog. Nah, this guy fucks. I love the spacey future-sounding synths, along with the cool demeanor in the way he talks, his short lines, and the openness of how he ends them. The lyrics and industrial-sounding instrumentation give off a Metropolis 1927 vibe full of chrome, robots, and a major existential crisis. It's super coherent, at the slight expense of being repetitive. But since I like the sound, that just means I enjoy the whole album. I also like the 7.5-minute "Conversation", which gave itself plenty of time to grow and change, and is placed near the end AND before the massive hit "Cars", allowing people to digest it better in anticipation. But really, all the tracks are so atmospheric and controlled, never overbearing, to the point where most audiences can handle the whole 41 minutes without being pushed off, making this a gateway into more synthpop or even industrial music.

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Thu Apr 20 2023
4

really enjoyable *mood* on this album, like Replicants it's all the same tune but it's a great tune

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Tue Nov 28 2023
4

It definitely got samey by the end, but you gotta admire the sheer devotion to sound, image and style. I'd call this proto-80s.

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Fri Dec 15 2023
4

Gary Numan - Born March 8, 1958 (age 65) Gary Oldman - Born March 21, 1958 (age 65) The newer Gary is the Oldman, Gary. Regardless, this banger of an album is intuitive, original and so different than the New Wave that was emerging at this time. 4.5/5

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Thu Jul 15 2021
2

Скучный, архаичный, репетативнй звук. Одиозные ленивые вокальные партии. Интересно, что все треки звучат плюс-минус одинаково заурядно (разве что у вступительного трека начало будто предвещает нечто интересно). Но почему-то мировым хитом стала Cars. Да таким, что Ньюман "был помечен как артист одного хита". Вторым по значимости стала Complex, но там хотя бы инструментал поинтереснее. На Metal было сделано множество каверов, даже от Nine Inch Nails, хотя трек тоже унылый весьма. В общем, пускай Гэри Ньюман стал "крёстным отцом электронной музыки", но ныне пускай сидит в монастыре, в 2к21 такое слушать неоправданно тоскливо.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
2

Gary what is your prime directive? Why have you manufactured this album of sounds? Do you want us to feel technology induced alienation from the human "soul"? Is this a question you're programmed to understand? Gary do you have capabilities to receive gratitude? If so, thank you for Nine Inch Nails and Marylin Manson. Gary can you decipher sarcasm? C-

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Sat Apr 30 2022
2

OK this is not half bad but I'm really not a fan of the genre. It feels like it goes on forever, I was getting bored, wondered how much was left and I was only on song #6.

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Fri May 20 2022
2

It’s congruent, I’ll give it that. The vocals are lacking and what was novel the first couple songs becomes monotonous and annoying.

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Sun Aug 07 2022
2

Numan, same old mistakes (ok c'était novateur mais répétitif et chiant)

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Mon Jun 21 2021
1

I asked for one thing, Mrs./Mr. 1001 Album Generator! A 5 star album for Father’s Day. If what I asked for were a gourmet shaved prime ribeye steak and cheese sub, what I got was a pre-made ham and cheese vending machine version that expired 3 months ago. Observer was a bit enjoyable as was Cars, which I recognized. I can understand that the musical sound broke ground for the time. Nonetheless, I pressed my luck with my Father’s Day request and was delivered a whammy instead.

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Mon Apr 19 2021
5

Except for one song from this album I was unfamiliar. Despite that every song made me think of another song I have heard but couldn't name. That tells me that perhaps a lot of people have sampled from this album? Anyway, I liked it.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
5

11/10. Classic. Can’t wait to see him live later this year!

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

Wow! Que excelente disco. Parece una película del futuro. De los mejores que he escuchado

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

This is how music lovers in the 80s believed the future would sound like. This is how the best of 80s sounds like for us today!

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Fri Mar 04 2022
5

literally so good thank u for the music gary, numan (complimentary)

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

Awww yes! This really illuminated my pentahedron, if you know what I mean! Properly brought a cheery pink glow to my pyramid! I don't think there's any Vangelis on this list, so Gary Numan is the main source of synthesizer soundtracks of the future, from the past on here. Fave track - "M.E." maybe - source of that badass sample the Basement Jaxx used for "Where's Your Head At?". "Cars" is obviously an absolute tune. "Metal" was a stand out. The bonus track "Bombers" was excellent too...

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Thu May 26 2022
5

Classic electronic album. If you have not listened to the album for a while, then the songs all sound a bit the same perhaps. But another reason for that is just that they are all of high quality and very consistent: the two singles Cars and Complex do not stand out at all.

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Tue Jul 26 2022
5

This must have inspired lots of my favourite artists

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

This record reminds me of the life I used to have. During the late 70s - early 80s, I worked as a pole dancer in a bar in Soho. Every morning I would cover myself in glitter and wait for my shift to begin. I was like a prowling lion, ready for action, ready for hot, glittery, pole dancing action. The amount of money I made was obscene and the things I'd do to my adoring public would bring a tear to the eye of even the most alpha male in the prison yard. Gary Glitter stole my act and went on to have more success than me as a prolific paedophile. The life I could have had.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
5

FUCK yeah. didn’t know shit about this outside of Cars, which I found annoying when my dad would play it one million times in the car. One of like sixty-eighty songs that he’d play over and over. But this album Jesus Christ dude. 1979 it had to be way ahead of its time. Zero electric guitar and it fucking ROCKS. I love 80s synth pop. This is the exact 80s synth pop that I like. One hour and nouns minutes of super layered and delicately produced utter bops. I love his aesthetic too. That androgynous robot shit. Screams David Bowie but less of a rockstar and more of a clone. This dude had to have been some kind of musical savant. This was really impressive and I almost have no words. I’m gonna listen again.

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Sat Sep 24 2022
5

The only two songs off this I have heard before was "Cars" and "Engineers." I have always loved both songs, so it was a real pleasure to listen to this whole album. I'm a sucker for a Moog synth, and this Moogtastic!

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Sat Sep 24 2022
5

I have no complaints here. This album delivered...it was everything that I expected that it would be.

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Sun Nov 06 2022
5

Still sounds like the future.

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Fri Dec 09 2022
5

Oye, este es un clásico inmediato

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Loved this album from start to finish. How have I never heard this before? Not a duff track to be heard. I think this will quickly become a favourite!

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Thu Jan 26 2023
5

This didn't capture me at first but the back half, and the last four tracks in particular, grabbed me more. I'll likely give it another listen sometime.

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Thu Feb 16 2023
5

Gary Numan breaks off from the Tubeway Army and predicts the future. The Pleasure Principle is a masterwork of synthpop, setting a precedent for the coming decade, robotic and alien but somehow not overwhelmingly cold…it’s pure genius.

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Fri Mar 10 2023
5

I can’t think of an album that had a bigger influence on 80s new wave than this one. Metal, M.E., and Cars are all classics that still go hard, the latter propping up the weaker back half after the overly long Conversation and weak ending of Engineers. Despite the album as a whole maybe over staying it’s welcome, there’s some days I just replay songs like Metal over and over again because it won’t leave my head.

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Wed Mar 22 2023
5

This came as somewhat of a surprise. I only knew Cars but the other songs ive heard in one way or the other, mostly through samples. That makes it a very influential album, not just because of its early use of digital instruments. Loved it a lot.

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Thu Mar 30 2023
5

I LOVE GARY NUMAN HERE IN MY CAR I FEEL SAFEST OF ALL

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Mon Apr 03 2023
5

Honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed this album. The whole album has a very specific sound with the synthesizers often using the same voice, and I think put through effects pedals. I love that he uses a real drummer as it really adds a different sound to the usually synthpop sounds. Complete banger.

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Mon Apr 17 2023
5

Gary Numan was clearly a genius. Still sampled to this day, he created some groundbreaking sounds. He is the sound of the 80's

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Wed May 24 2023
5

9/10 awesome album! a little repetitive at times but still a fantastic experience!

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Thu May 25 2023
5

I had strong Kraftwerk vibes from the beggining. Nothing suprising considering release date. Classic synthpop sound. Some tracks were a bit new wave/post punk and I like that little bit of diversity

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Thu May 25 2023
5

After absolutely amazing opening 'Airlane' everything else is bound to be a little disappointing - but what a beautiful disappointment it was! Dark, uneasy and totally captivating.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
5

There were a lot of influences to be sure (Electronic and Glam) but Gary took it to another realm. Tbh this is really a continuation from Tubeway Army. Really got me into Synth and I'm still listening today. It's about the whole pose as well as the music. Good to see a lot of Retro bands too. You can catch taglines here and there from other records where they've pinched a synth scale.

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Wed Jul 12 2023
5

PREFS : TOUT MOINS PREF : RIEN

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Fri Aug 04 2023
5

REALLY enjoyed this album. Had only heard a handful of Gary Numan’s songs, will be looking into his discography!

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Wed Aug 16 2023
5

Wild that this came out in '79! Ahead of it's time for sure. I knew Cars, but crazily I don't think I'd ever listened to this whole album before. Or if I had, it was absolute ages ago. Anyway, this album fuckin' kicks IMHO. Feels like New Wave by way of Kraftwerk, which is very much up my alley. Sweet bass lines, hella Moogs, random viola to spice things up... Hard to call this anything but pure synth-pop deliciousness. Just gonna go ahead and call this a 5 because I feel like it.

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Sun Oct 15 2023
5

as a die-hard Bowie Fan I should not like this (he copied him) but I kind of do? I mean it's very obvious on songs like M.E. but still they are bangers...

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Sun Nov 05 2023
5

Man I wish I could have heard this one in the full context of when it came out. Top music, top album cover too.

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Mon Nov 20 2023
5

How can an album sound so 80s but not be from the 80s? Gary Numan is the father of synth pop and paved the way for the sounds of the 80s. His influence is undeniable. There is a sense of nostalgia in every song that leaves you longing for more. Albeit simplistic in rhythm and lyrics, the songs form little masterpieces sprinkled throughout the album. ‘Cars’ is a song that I have listened to thousands of times starting at a very early age. That song helped me appreciate this type of music on a new level and seek it out to further my musical tastes. An extremely enjoyable experience from start to finish. 9/10

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Fri Dec 29 2023
5

Well now I have to dig out the LP! YouTube is only so good. This really is the future. I’m a Numanoid synth fan and the songs metal, control and film are bangers. I’m still praying to the aliens. I suppose I got a deep love of electronic music, I guess it’s just modern nostalgia for the future.

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Wed Jan 03 2024
5

A completely groundbreaking album in synth/new wave, and a very influential record. It gets a bit too samey towards the end, but it's still a very unique sound, after almost 45 years.

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Fri Mar 29 2024
5

Absolutely brilliant. Have always liked the innovative music of Gary Numan. This album certainly lives up to its title because it was indeed a pleasure to listen to.👍👐

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Sun Apr 21 2024
5

I really need to go here. Can I remember the 80s & let go of the 90s?

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Thu Apr 25 2024
5

Easy 5/5 for this vampire alien robot with a Moog collection. Terrific songs and inventive instrumentation.

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Thu Apr 25 2024
5

Psychedelic/music wavey feeling, loved it,

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Wed May 01 2024
5

The third album I ever bought, the second being Replicas (and the first being the Grease soundtrack, but let’s draw a veil over that). It’s as exciting to listen to now as it was then, just brilliant. It was nice to hear the bonus tracks from CD reissues, but it really didn’t need them. And Complex still gives me goosebumps/makes me well up. Marvellous; had to immediately play it again.

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Wed May 01 2024
5

A perfect synth pop album with excellent lyrics and playing.

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Fri May 03 2024
5

It cannot be overstated how much of an influential album this was to all electronic music that has come after be it dance to industrial.

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Fri May 17 2024
5

EDM, electronica, cyber-punk, techno... synthwave and its assorted sub-genres... it is ALL in large part grandfathered by Gary Numan. This album is from 1979 (!) The overall consistency and lyrical timelessness of this album is amazing. (Also) even though I have not dusted off my Gary Numan CD's in a while... I actually HAVE Gary Numan CD's to begin with!

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Fri May 24 2024
5

There are some amazing songs on this album. I saw Gary Numan live in 2023 and since then have been hooked. This album works so well together as a piece. Fantastic album and brilliant genre of music. This is the start of electronic music, and you can tell it influences so many other bands Favourite song: M.E & Cars Least favourite: all good songs. its a 5/5 album Album artwork: Brilliant cover

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Wed Nov 25 2020
4

album is good M.E. is awesome kind of ends up getting repetitve though. i swear a bunch of this album is just in the same key or something. album cover is kickass though and the 80s synthpop soud is nice amde even better by the fact that this was made in 1979 . the buzzy synth sound...<3

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