After effectively retiring the band as a live entity back in 2009, the ever-enigmatic Trent Reznor once again resurrects the Nine Inch Nails machine to channel his inner thoughts and demons.
Luckily for us this means a belter of an eighth studio album, one that looks both back into the NIN catalogue and to the outfit’s future in equal measure.
Both atheistically and texturally ‘Hesitation Marks’ nods to Reznor’s opus, ‘The Downward Spiral’ – and the artist responsible for the cover of NIN’s 1994 set, Russell Mills, returns for this album’s artwork. But there is also a minimalism at play, and an ambience that isn’t so removed from the less-hurried production style of Jamie xx.
Numbers such as ‘Find My Way’ literally scream, “Daddy’s home, and this is how it’s done.” It’s melancholy of melody and nightmarish of dreamscape, a comedown tune filled with memories you’d rather forget.
Surprises come in the form of ‘All Time Low’, the grooviest thing the group has ever committed to record, and ‘Everything’, a pop-punk-ish mash-up of industrial noise and The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ that leaves you either loving the songwriter’s balls or questioning this sudden loss of album cohesion.
Once again Reznor has proven his genius for basically singing the same tune but breaking new ground while doing so. His time away composing for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has helped this collection translate as one of the band’s freshest.
Less is more and, for the first time in some 20 years, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Family life and a well-earned break have given this one-time Gothfather new tricks that pure despair could never provide.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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Warning: this video contains rapidly flashing images
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