Review: Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

Reznor reboots NIN on familiar but polished eighth album.

Back on a major label after a decade of long sabbaticals, external distractions and digital download experiments, the first NIN album in five years finds Trent Reznor reconvening with friends old and new, including former Bowie/King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew and – bizarrely – Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham.

The techno-noir sonic palette here is as eclectic as ever, though Reznor’s deluxe electronic collagist side largely prevails over his savage industrial noisepunk self. The fine single Copy Of A moves from Depeche Mode-style robo-gloom to propulsive electro gallop while the amniotic Find My Way is a sophisticated trip-hop ballad with hints of vintage Massive Attack in its ghostly, luminous glide.

Reznor’s excursion into falsetto-voiced funk-rap on All Time Low is also interesting, if not wholly successful, while the heavily treated guitar blasts and layered vocal harmonies of Everything and I Would For You prove he still has a flair for surprisingly melodic, muscular, big-chorus anthems.

Predictably, the album’s chief flaw is its hackneyed lyrical hinterland, a humourless high-art hellscape of brooding despair, sulky self-pity and regular angry ejaculations. Even at 48, Reznor remains the oldest moody teenager in rock.

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