Trent Reznor has cited Gary Numan's alienated Eighties synth pop as a major influence, and Numan credits a NIN show with inspiring his creative rebirth. Reznor is absent on this comeback LP, though Robin Finck, guitarist and longtime NIN collaborator, figures prominently in the sound, a searing digital-industrial display brightened by Numan's slightly cracked choirboy high tenor. It's that cyborg vulnerability that makes this more interpretive than derivative: See the Arabic-scented "Splinter," or "The Calling," with its lush orchestrations. It's electronic-age angst, refracted through pop history, back to its source.
From The Archives Issue 1196: November 21, 2013