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Gary Numan's third album, The Pleasure Principle, was not only the most influential synth-pop album this side of the Kraftwerk discography, it was also one of the key albums of the entire new wave era. While Numan found fame in the U.K. with his first two releases, this was the one that broke him on the other side of the Atlantic. Numan played some guitar on the earlier albums, but here he switches to strictly synths.
Crucially, he retained his bassist and drummer instead of going all electronic, lending a visceral rock feel to his sound. The sharp, lean single "Cars" became an international smash, but the rest of the record packs an equal punch. The crunching, concise riffs and rhythms of tracks like "Metal" and "Engineers" perfectly echo Numan's technophile/sci-fi image. They also represent the next logical step David Bowie could have taken if he'd continued pursuing the electronic-oriented direction of his late-'70s albums with Brian Eno. Fortunately for all, Numan was on hand to pick up that stylistic thread.
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