Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Nine Inch Nails: "Hesitation Marks" (album review)

All of a sudden Trent Reznor is a busy man.  Alongside his soundtrack work, he already released the debut full length from How To Destroy Angels earlier this year.  This week he came back with the highly-anticipated (I can still say that right?) album from Nine Inch Nails.

The first few tracks of Hesitation Marks gives fans a lot of hope.  The more rudimentary beats on "Copy of A", "Came Back Haunted", and "While I'm Still Here" (which appears later on the album), evoke thoughts of 1989.

The fury is gone for the most part.  With the exception of "Disappointed" and the hard-rocking "Everything" (which features actual singing), there's nothing truly explosive on Hesitation Marks.  In fact, it continues the decline that's occurred since Broken.

A handful of other tracks seem to merely exist.  They are neither good nor bad.  They don't connect with you in any meaningful way.  Among these are "Various Methods of Escape" and "In Two".

Some concepts just don't repeat well.  The slow-building "I Would for You" is meant to be the deeply meaningful self-hating track of the record, in the vein of "Ringfinger" or "Hurt".  Instead it comes across as an over-earnest comical self-parody.

On the plus side, Reznor has stripped away many of the swirls and extraneous sounds that made recent albums cloudy, murky affairs.  It's a cleaner sound that would work very well if it were just punched up a bit.

Nine Inch Nails play the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on October 4th.

Best tracks: "Copy of A", "Everything"

Track listing for Hesitation Marks:
  • The Eater of Dreams
  • Copy of A
  • Came Back Haunted
  • Find My Way
  • All Time Low
  • Disappointed
  • Everything
  • Satellite
  • Various Methods of Escape
  • Running
  • I Would for You
  • In Two
  • While I'm Still Here
  • Black Noise

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