Nine Inch Nails "Hesitation Marks" Album Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Tue, 27 Aug 2013 08:31:15
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"Wave goodbye," sings Trent Reznor on "Everything". "Wish me well."
Boasting that send-off and nodding to the 2009 "farewell" tour, it's one of the most kinetic moments on Nine Inch Nails' latest opus Hesitation Marks. As Reznor announces "I am home," it's clear that he's back and quite comfortable behind the shuddering synths, gyrating guitars, and eerie soundscapes that populate the blood-soaked canvas of his eighth full-length studio album. However, this isn't a return down The Downward Spiral or back into The Pretty Hate Machine. In fact, Hesitation Marks remains a distinct animal, baring claws and gritting its teeth ready for Nine Inch Nails' biggest chapter yet. That's the real majesty of Hesitation Marks.
For as much as this may seem like familiar territory, it's new. You can hear it on the stomping howl of "Various Methods of Escape", which cackles through an industrial sheen with raw power as well as the fit-for-a-Blade Runner chase scene "Copy of A", where the keyboards cycle intensely as Reznor intones, "I'm just a copy of a copy of a copy".
Once the chase is on, that first single "Came Back Haunted" throttles everything into darkness punctuated by a twist of six-string distortion and an undeniable hook. "Find My Way" pensively ruminates through a dystopian haze of cyber meanderings as the singer's voice reverberates poetically over the snapping blips. "All Time Low" gets funky with Reznor's falsetto coasting over danceable beats. This could very well be one of his catchiest outings yet, and yet there's a wonderful menace just beneath the surface. The same could be said for "Running" where an angelic vocal clashes with dirty electronics.
Another standout "I Would For You" slips from a haunting verse into a chorus that thrashes elegantly. Reznor admits, "If I could be somebody else, well I think I would for you".
Though he doesn't have to be anyone else. He's in damn fine form—especially as the eerie closer "While I'm Still Here" subsides into an instrumental afterword on "Black Noise".
It's really time to say, "Hello" to Mr. Reznor and Nine Inch Nails again. He's returned with one of the best albums of the year and a milestone in his own storied career. We're not waving goodbye anytime soon…
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