Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
A good yet uneven NIN album, which lacks 'bite' compared to past offerings
on 2 September 2013
There's no denying how much of a musical genius Trent Reznor is. But that's the problem, alot is expected out of this guy, probably more so than modern musicians (aside from Radiohead).
It took a awhile for single Came Back Haunted to grow on me, but eventually I came round to loving it.
The album itself starts off very strong, the first 3 proper tracks leading Reznor into a potentially great new direction which echoes Radiohead and even Massive Attack era Mezzanine (the ballad Find My Way) as well as his own signature.
But then it starts to dip with 'All Time Low'.
At first I loved the track for it being so different from what Reznor has done before, but after awhile it's just so incredibly cheesy and grating, trying desperately to recapture the magic of Closer along with Bowie's Fame and Fashion.
But it simply doesn't work. It's almost like he's trying too hard to capture the raunchiness of Closer.
There are some great little tunes on the album, such as the brilliantly upbeat 'Everything', which sounds like a collaboration of Bernard Sumner (New Order) on guitar, and I Would for You.
Most are slow burning mood pieces, which somehow don't sit so well along side Reznor's most commercial pop music yet. Due to this, the album lacks two huge crucial ingredients that Reznor is normally so great at crafting- direction and character.
I often think Reznor is at his best when doing concept albums, The Downward Spiral is easily his greatest and most remembered album to date by hardcore fans. But it just seems like retreads of past albums (Satellite, although still good, sounds like it was left off Year Zero) to an overload of influence with Disappointed (is that Thom Yorke's vocals on the verse?) as well as B side filler (the repetitive Running).
It ends up as being 'an album which has good songs' rather than being 'a great album with great songs'. And not really a 'front to back' album in which each song follows up the next so effortlessly in sequence. It's also the first album Trent has made where the tracks don't segue into the next (there's a pause, then another track kicks in). It just feels so uneven.
But for me, the biggest problem seems to be Atticus Ross, Trent's right hand man and co-producer. Unlike his work with him on Year Zero, which had a 'narrative', Reznor's musical direction seems somewhat lost, and Ross's presence is overly dominant (give Trent back his guitar Atticus!).
I'm not attacking Reznor's 'new direction', which many have had a problem with since With Teeth, because there doesn't really seem to be much of a new direction at all. Just a mish mash of songs, some great, some good, some terribly average, with loads of beats and great production.
Which is the main flaw with this album, unlike previous Nine Inch Nail's records, it doesn't have it's own 'character'. If this were a Radiohead album (I only mention this due to Reznor's fondness of the band, as well as both being perfectionists of creating albums that work so well in sequential form), it would be the equivalent of 'Hail to the Thief'.
It seems doubtful that this will become a classic in the future of Nine Inch Nails back catalogue, and may in fact (apart from some remix albums) be his most forgettable.
Excellent production as always though, but that's to be expected. There's just very little on here which knocks you backwards and blows you away (Copy of A is the only one that comes close), and Trent is more than capable of creating all time classics with songs that tug at the heart strings (although Find my Way comes fairly close but misses the mark), which this album is also sorely lacking. It seems like a fairly cold and calculated effort for the might Rez.
Copy of A
Came Back Haunted
Find My Way
I Would for You
Various Methods of Escape
The rest range from being to good to simply average.
Let the hate commence...