Make no mistake, there is nothing happy about this album.
There isn't a note out of place on Gary Numan's latest effort, and it has the level of consistent quality fans have come to expect. In fact, the production on "Splinter" is technically superior to Numan's last few releases, if not more, courtesy of band member Ade Fenton. Interesting contributions from other live members can be found throughout the album, as well as several guitar collaborations with Robin Finck of the current and past live Nine Inch Nails lineup.
Though eccentric at times, the sound design is distinctly Numan, and some familiar voices are coaxed out of the synthesizers he uses on these cuts. Distorted guitars, sharpened synths, and mournful wailing vocals abound along with the murk of heavy industrial-sounding beats and extensive reverberating atmosphere. Artistically, Numan is carving out a distinct style of industrial rock from his synthpop roots, not quite as abrasive as those he purports to be drawing upon for reflexive influence but certainly as hard-hitting and ablative in the long run.
"Love Hurt Bleed" and "I Am Dust" are the obvious choices for singles from the album, bringing their pounding grooves to bear on anthemic choruses. Other fast-paced tracks can be found with "Here In The Black" and "Who Are You" but the general slow creep of this opus does not mean you are in for easy listening. "Lost" and "My Last Day" certainly make one wonder just how deeply Numan is willing to dig in his emotions to find lyrics, and he does not disappoint - just don't expect to be smiling at the end of them. A breath of fresh air can be found in "A Shadow Falls On Me," carrying construction and mood similar to his prior work "Walking With Shadows" from the 2000 album "Pure". Still, pensive melancholy doesn't exactly interrupt the dark mood, and it could be accurately described as an exhausting listen.
Without a doubt, "Splinter" is Numan's finest work to date since "Pure" and perhaps technically superior to the latter. It is worth repeated listens and Gary should be commended for this work.