This album was received as somewhat disappointing upon its release. Indeed, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, had left a gap of six years between this release and The Fragile as two major albums. Having said all of that, we should take a listen to this album anyway to see if it sounds any good and if indeed, it is disappointing at all. Let’s jump in and do so.
We kick off with All The Love In The World which begins with some subsonic bass, interesting electronic textures and Trent Reznor singing gently on it. His voice does not sound as good as it used to, likely aged somewhat. It is a good start, with some piano as well. This tune is decent, surprisingly so. A good introduction to the album, even if it does lack the immediate magic of the 1990s releases by Nine Inch Nails. There are some nicely mixed sounds in the background over Trent Reznor’s calm chanted lyrical phrase which is repeated quite a bit. In the second half of the song, it goes into a more danceable piece, with the chanted lyrics building up with a load of multitracked singing and textures. It’s surprisingly good, and a really cool listen. Good start to the album, the outro has a lone piano part. Nice.
Next is You Know What You Are? which begins with some impressive drum work and electronic noises to match. It’s not as good as previous efforts. Trent Reznor does do some impressive screaming here, and he sounds very expressive. Still, this is a little sad to hear that this is not a concept album and instead is a collection of songs. Not a huge deal, this is less depressing than earlier efforts by NIN and the electronic textures and drumming here are really very impressive. “Don’t you fucking know what you are?!” is screamed repeatedly here, but done extremely well. The outro has more piano in it, along with some mellotron.
The Collector begins with a massive drumbeat that sounds awesome. Some dirty bass guitar enters, and we are underway. It is a good tune to hear, and sounds really different. Once the chorus hits, we are in Nine Inch Nails dark heaven here. This album so far is good, even if it at times lacks the magic of some earlier Nine Inch Nails work. Loud, interesting and full of cool dynamics, this is a good song and nicely sung by Trent Reznor. In the outro is some piano, along with Trent Reznor chanting. The dark side is here, folks. It ends abruptly.
The Hand That Feeds begins with some EDM style drum sounds and textures, before going into a very danceable piece with some really great guitar riffs and textures. This is likely the best song from this album, and you can hear why. It has an enormous guitar riff and danceable 4/4 beats. Very catchy and worth repeat listens, this is a very good listen indeed. In the middle are some cyber electronic sounds as a breakdown, along with Trent Reznor singing nicely, before we go back into the EDM inspired groove. It is a superb listen with some nice lyrics too, a genuinely good effort by Nine Inch Nails. The outro is a little repetitive, but no matter, this is a great song. Good to hear.
Following is Love Is Not Enough which begins with a drum loop that sounds massive and impressive. Some rather dirge like bass enters, and Trent Reznor gets singing underway. It’s not the greatest Nine Inch Nails tune and although this is more or less a continuation of The Fragile’s efforts, it seems a little pointless this track. It’s good, just not great. Still, not worth skipping, just a little disappointing for Trent Reznor’s level of perfection. Some good singing is here, mind you and Trent Reznor does very well at his music here. It’s okay, but not impressive.
After that is Every Day Is Exactly The Same which begins with some melancholy piano and some electronic sounds. The drum beats get kicking underway and we are in a good listen here. The song here is okay, it’s not as good as earlier Nine Inch Nails efforts, but is still good regardless. There are many Acid based textures on this song, and the production is very good here. It may not reach the depths of The Downward Spiral in terms of perfectly dark music, but is decent nonetheless. The quiet/loud dynamics here are effectively used, as are the electronic textures. This is a good song for the monotony of urban life and the 9-5 work schedule. The harmonies at the end are nicely layered. It finishes with the massive drumbeat.
With Teeth begins with some freaky cyber noises, before a quirky drum beat enters. The sounds here are honestly awful, goodness knows why Trent Reznor made an ordinary sounding track to be added onto the album. It doesn’t sound really good at all. Sure, Trent Reznor was making a different album here, but this is a poor effort from NIN and is worth skipping, despite the fact that Trent Reznor’s singing is very good. This is really disappointing, and it goes to show that the 21st century had deteriorated Nine Inch Nails music. It then goes into piano and very quiet whispering in the middle of the track, which is different in a good way, but a little disappointing really. It goes back into the horrible sound section of earlier on, lacking rhythmic sensibility and a good melody. Not the best from these guys, sadly. Worth avoiding if you can. Not good enough for fans waiting six years for a new album, to be frank.
Only begins with a basic drumbeat and some better electronic sounds and piano, building up a nice groove here. Some very audible bass guitar then enters, which makes this very catchy. Trent Reznor sings about dark emotions, but it seems that he is not that depressed here. Regardless, this is a good song, without being as great as what he delivered in the past. A good, but not great piece from this album. Danceable, but it is clear that this is missing some magic from previous releases in Nine Inch Nails back catalogue. The layered textures and sounds here are interesting, however. Some of the sounds toward the end are really awful, and this could have been bettered. A good song, falling short of being great.
Next up is Getting Smaller which begins with some rather awful feedback style guitars, before an intense drumbeat enters. Trent Reznor puts in a good effort singing, but a poor effort lyrically. Seemingly, he has lost his focus here. The six years between The Fragile and With Teeth were not efficiently used, it seems. It’s good music, just not as great as previous releases. This track has a really loud and anthemic sort of chorus. There is a strange breakdown here in the second half, before building up with sonic textures. This piece drags on somewhat towards the end, and gets repetitive at the end, sadly. Good but not really great.
Following is Sunspots has a basic drum beat and chugging bass guitar to begin with. It’s a really odd listen, and honestly, not that good, once again. Trent Reznor whispers over the top of it all, before this piece goes into a really ordinary sort of sonic piece. It’s really slow moving, and honestly, pretty forgettable. It may not be overly depressing, but is hard to maintain listening here. It then alternates between a somewhat louder section and a quieter section, with some really awful electronic sounds here. This is not good to listen to, it sounds terrible, in fact. Could have been easily scrapped here.
The Line Begins To Blur comes along next. It has some more awful sounds here, sounding like a really dirge like track. This track in particular is really awful, and seems like an exercise in texture rather than actual song craftsmanship. The chorus is okay though, but still a huge feeling of disappointment is here given the scenario of this album. The verses are horrible and drag this track down. Very much a drag, even though this is only a three minute long song. Hard to know what these guys were thinking here, this is pretty ordinary listening.
Beside You In Time begins with some swirling electric guitar sounds, before going into some very fast EDM drum beats. A familiar melody then enters. It’s a better piece of music from this album, although sadly this album sounds like a wasted opportunity. Trent Reznor’s whispering here is very articulate here though, and this sounds like a really intense love song. This is a definite improvement on what came before. It goes into a really stunning electronic textured part in the second half, before the beats kick in again. Really a very interesting piece, it does not have a typical NIN feel to it. Towards the end, it becomes more songlike and different. Better than expected, this is a fine listen from start to finish. Good tune, it fades out superbly.
Up next is Right Where It Belongs which has some electronic textures and piano to begin with. This sounds like an uninspired effort from the start, the piano and textures here are really quite depressing to hear. This is more a return to the NIN of old, although the music here is not exactly the best effort from Trent Reznor and co. The piano and singing get a little boring after a while, with no dramatic or interesting changes for the most part. It goes on for too long as well for a five minute tune. The crowd cheering sample is not necessary here, either. Eventually this builds up with volume and intensity, reaching a climatic point towards the end. Ordinary effort here, and this isn’t even the worst track on this record. Very dull, it finishes off with a lone piano riff. Disappointing.
The extra tracks here begin with Home – Bonus Track which begins with an awful electronic guitar sound, before launching into a thunderous drum led piece. Kind of quirky, it is another rather ordinary Nine Inch Nails track here. It’s decent, just not wow in terms of appeal. Good if you are a fan of NIN, this is quite catchy though. Seemingly coming across as a love song of sorts, it is definitely different here. Just a bit different, which is always welcome. The drums at the end are massive, a lot like The Chemical Brothers sort of drum sounds. Not too bad.
Right Where It Belongs – Version 2 is the very last piece here, with some mixed guitar/bass guitar sounds at the start. It sounds intense and depressing, much more so than the original piece here. A really nice subdued piece of music, without the obviously pretentious stop/start and quiet/loud dynamics, this is simplicity and why it matters for Trent Reznor. Sounding almost like a lullaby, this is definitely different. It is a great piece of sonic landscape and simplicity, definitely different. Cool, calm and collected, this is a good listen from Nine Inch Nails, and is an excellent addition to this album. Good to hear. Very refreshing, although a little long, to be fair.
Obviously not the greatest Nine Inch Nails album, sadly. It is good but in retrospect, is not a classic album, unfortunately. There are definitely moments here on this album, but the album lacks consistency. Still, if you like NIN, you are at home here.
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