This is album number two for Tubeway Army, before Gary Numan went on to do greater and lesser things solo. The first, self-titled, record has its moments, but it’s not the cold metallic and joyfully soulless robotic outing this record is.
From the opening pulse of Me, I Disconnect From You, you are aware you have entered a grey land that promises inorganic miserable delights. There isn’t one track on this record that you could describe as warm. Far from it. Even the touching instrumental I Nearly Married a Human is an electronic approximation of an end of the world lament.
The lack of warmth is what gives this record its eternal appeal. It’s an android’s paradise, even if many of the songs are from the point of view of humans. The precise and concise metallic rhythms here are right up a robot’s alley, jerking and pulsing forth with positronic energy. Even the hit Are Friends Electric? sounds like the sort of thing C3PO would’ve composed had he been given studio time.
There’s no filler here and there are plenty of highlights. From the tight grooves of The Machman, You Are in My Vision (album highlight) and When the Machines Rock to the reflective grey skies of the title track and Down in the Park, it’s a glorious journey through a post-Kraftwerk’s The Man Machine world. Critics say Numan’s next album is the classic and in a way I agree, but he was never as cold and concise as he was on this record.
I love it, miserable thing that it is.