Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nine Inch Nails: "Hesitation Marks"

Trent is back. This was bound to be a short lived hiatus after his How to Destroy Angels bombed so badly. The new album sees Reznor continuing to step away from the industrial label and towards EDM. This has some varied mixed results which come due to the rather diverse stabs in the dark to keep Nine Inch Nails relevant today. So the crunch of guitars is abandoned for an almost more Daft Punk approach, so if you want Downward Spiral then you are going to need to look else where, though there is a touch of the dirty junkie whore feeling that album had on "Come Back Haunted" though its put through a much sleeker edm filter, but carries a similar sneer.

The actual opening song " Copy of A" has a very lo-fi drum machine sound sputtering underneath some lush layers of vocals and synth.  These elements build in a dynamic enough manner to compensate for the low — fi elements and lack o  guitar.  This is a reoccurring phenomenon for the album as "Come Back Haunted" works off a similar premise, but when the guitars do show up on the album they take a very garage rock sound thats strikes me as being apologetic and would sound more at home on a Yeah Yeah Yeah's album.  So Trent is coming to terms with not being on the tip of the hipster tongue.

The funk strut of "All Time Low" takes you back towards "Pretty Hate Machine" though it carries the same groove as Bowie's Fame until it smoothes out into an introspective bridge, Adrian Belew's guitar is give more room to shine. Despite the Tangerine Dream drift of ambiance this is more likely to find it's way to strip clubs than "Find My Way" which finds Trent back on his knees in more pleading mood, though not at the low self deprecation of say... "Hurt". It is nonetheless a ballad, though even here it's still clear he knows his way around a melody and not a hack in the songwriting department but it feels like something we have already heard out of him.

He is going for the hipster dollar in a big way on " Everything" that finds him using a very Franz  Ferdinand guitar line , which in some case translates as a wink towards Joy Division but the layer vocals on the chorus bring to bright a touch to things and is a little too up beat vocally for a Nine Inch Nails album. It's understood he want to give his sound a face lift to keep the lines of age from dating him out of the current market, but she should read a page from David Bowie's book on how to stay one step ahead of the times rather than sounding like you are struggling to play catch up. "Disappointed" succeeds at staying true to himself and sufficiently dark. The guitar stays away from going metal but is a dissonant enough fuzz to do the song justice.

The booty popping beat of "Satellite" makes me think Trent is going to start shouting that he ain't no holla back girl.The song does a slow burn before building into a more sonic tension , with the vocal layers used to create this effect though subtle guitars are added to the crescendo. "Various Methods of Escape" is delightfully haunted by the ghost of 90's industrial rock, but the guitars are not slathered in thick distortion, but this could be on the soundtrack of the Crow remake.

There are more shades of house music on this album than any of his others it takes a predominant role in the color scheme of  " Running". If Reznor doesn't get the radio back he is out for the clubs. The production here reminds me slightly of the turn he took during the Fragile sessions though much less rock... ok,  no rock at all. The vocals do most of the work here but are as alluring as some of the other performances on the album .
The edm is at least back to the familiar dark and brooding on "I would For You" though brightens like Depeche Mode when he rounds the chorus. Not heavy like say "Reptile" this songs does put him in much closer classic N.I.N.

The album like his other work is cohesive in the songs transition from one to another seamlessly despite some of the stylistic jumps . The final act of the album pretty much stays true to form for what you would expect, with less apologies attached to the attack of "In Two". The album ends on a softer note than this though with "While I'm Still Here" being a more reserved glitch-ed groove that is underwhelming. So the guitar sound leaves something to be desired on this one but overall I'll give the album an 8.5 , though expect it to grow on me up to a 9 inch nail.


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