Gary Numan
Berserker


3.0
good

Review

by Analogart USER (1 Reviews)
February 22nd, 2017 | 1 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "meh"serker

Numan's desire to provide music for the masses waned steadily with each successive release. As the front-man for Tubeway Army he spearheaded the group into UK stardom, promptly following up on that success with the highly influential release The Pleasure Principle under his own name. Electropop was cropping up on British radio stations everywhere and to rectify what he viewed as emerging clich├ęs within the genre Numan incorporated ambient, jazz, and funk influences into future works. New stylistic endeavors ultimately proved to fight against his commercial standing finally resulting in an outright rejection; to certain levels of fairness, by music critics. Unraveling expectations for commercial success and a thinning relationship with his record company would lead to Numan starting his own label to release independently. Fueled by his disillusion of industry practices the session for Berserker would seem to absorb this frustration, resulting in a more aggressive shift in tone and decidedly louder production.

Ushered in by an icy female vocal line the title track "Berserker" revels in its own melodrama with squealing guitars and punchy sequenced bass lines that build the song to a roaring crescendo. While not a commercially viable lead single with its dark vibe, transparent kinky lyrics, and obtuse song structure, its certainly a cold-wave gem that was a snide indication of Numan's logic during this time. "This Dying Machine" the albums second single has a similar energy to the title track albeit with a more accessible pop structure, the Militarized vocal delivery on top of the ethnic sounding percussive sequence is catchy and the gated synth chords between verses gives it a sense of momentum that unfortunately, is bogged down by the songs rather generic dance rhythm. "Pump It Up" another electro pop cut suffers greatly from a reliance on popular musical trends of the decade with a messy dance groove that's lost under the turbidity of its obnoxious arrangement. New production ideas present like the use of sampling and hard rock style riffs feel like a revelation for Gary Numan's sound, accentuating an industrial underpinning to the compositions. While certainly not a drastic break from his conventions at the time these new flourishes add a considerable amount of energy and intrigue to what could been a far more bland recording.

Shades of past work appear throughout the album and will sound refreshing to fans of his early material. "The God Film" is a sparser moment that hearkens back to the rhythmic brevity of The Pleasure Principle with a dash of danceable menace, "Cold Warning" is a moody viola driven piece reminisce of the stringed instrumentation found on Telekon. "This is New Love" and "The Secret" return to Numan's affinity for future funk and are great progressive arrangements, feeling like extended dance mixes from his I Assassin era. "The Secret" notable for containing an awesome slap bass performances that carries the jam through a slightly bloated runtime. "A Child with The Ghost" is the only ballad on the record and a mournful eulogy dedicated to former bassist and songwriting partner Paul Gardiner after his passing as the result of a heroin overdose. Working like a soldier's solute with a slow marching drum rhythm and airy synth lines "A Child with The Ghost" is cathartic and the most genuine moment offered here because of its personal nature and haunting melody.

Berserker isn't a timeless album wearing the tropes of the decade boldly on its sleeve. There is a compromise between a pop sensibility and a need for experimentation that dictates the flow of Berserker and the payoff is limited given the stylistic dogmatism present track by track. The album fares best when Numan is adding to his producers repertoire with new techniques and equipment, but the ideas on Berserker never seem to match the novelty of past inceptions. A more aggressive ethos is the biggest take away here giving Numan's sound a little more edge and vibrancy than before, however his next album The Fury seems to benefits greater from this new direction because of its more focused sound. It's hard to recommend Berserker to anyone but the most hardcore Numan fans, there is no distinct flavor to the record and only a few memorable moments. However at its very worst the album isn't as innovative as the android's other great projects. More of a whimper than a scream.


user ratings (34)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Analogart
February 23rd 2017


34 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Woot! First review for sputnik! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks fam.



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