Album:  Replicas

Artist:  Gary Numan

Label:  Beggar’s Banquet

Released:  1979


Flashback to 1979, i'm in my parents' basement with the radio on when i hear the first few bars of "are friends' electric?" I stopped whatever i was doing immediately and at that precise moment i had to find out who it was that recorded this track. I mean, i felt a sense of urgency of going out and buy this album so i could listen to this song over, and over again. Which i did. The very next day.


When i heard the other tracks on the album i felt completely absorbed. Here was this guy, singing not so well really, at times even off key, but the songs were just so hypnotizing and the sound was unlike anything i had heard before. It's an album that incorporates many music styles and yet fails to be categorized in any of them. It's rock, it's punk, it's new wave, it's alternative, it's electronic, it's all those and none of them at the same time. The feel of the live drumming is what makes this album stand out. The dark haunting synth melodies create the mood. To me, this album captures the end of the 70s and the beginning of a brand new promising era. It gave a glimpse of the synth pop decade that was to follow.


And the lyrics, let's not forget the lyrics. They talk of broken relationships and bizarre human encounters with machines and aliens. The album cover art is pretty basic but very effective. I could not stop staring at it when i first saw it. As if there was some kind of hidden message behind every element in the picture. Like they were carefully chosen to mean something. Now i just think good old Gary was plain fooling around and showing us his humorous side.


A few years later i saw his band play live on Saturday Night Live, the very popular tv show. That was the time when they were promoting their follow-up album The Pleasure Priniciple. This was when Numan suddenly became a household name, with hits such as Cars and Metal. But to me, the album under review here is his true masterpiece. For those who like Clan of Xymox, This Mortal Coil, or anything on the 4AD label.

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