Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile (Nothinglisland)
Wounds. Holes. Skin Bleeding and feeding and
breeding. Cup of coffee and Nugel Slater s cookery page .Blood. Filth. Flesh.
Anything good on television? The shit and the piss. The burning hatred. THE
DECAY. Time for bed. It‘s been a long day.
Trent Reznor must be a bitter man. It’s ten
years since Nine Inch Nails released the authentically nasty industrial flambé
of Pretty Hate Machine five since their last album; the goodwill-to-all-men
merriment of ‘The Downward Spiral‘. And now, the former Crown Prince of weird
sex and excruciating piercings must watch while his gloomy electro thunder is
stolen by — oh, the indignity — his own protégé.
While young Marilyn Manson used horned irony
and claw hammer satire to pass from ridiculed wannabe tied to Reznor‘s nipple
chains to the Uber-lord Of This
Earthly Dimension, Reznor is still clinging to an altogether moodier path of
mental collapse and hollow anomie. There s no “I Don t Like The Drugs (But The
Drugs Like Me)” here. Just a lexicon of angst and horror that most postmodern —
hell, postwar — households have long since put up on the shelf next to the Reader‘s Digest. The US magazines who have prematurely
hailed Reznor and his new album as rock avatars of Mount Sinai proportions are sadly suggestible —
The Fragile is not a whole new synthesis of pain and guitars. This late in the
day, it’s background.
It‘s particularly annoying, then, that this
double album still offers up moments superbly red in tooth and eye: the dubious
Eastern European marching song Pilgrimage looped like a noose the Kit Kat Club
glam beats of ‘Somewhat Damaged‘; ‘Starfuckers, mc‘, slyly playing the Marilyn
or Courtney?‘ game; the guitars-in-a-lathe scree of ‘The Day The World Went
Away‘. Yet ‘The Fragile‘ is hung, drawn and neutered by its refusal to take its
artfully glazed gaze off its audience for a second, peddling the same open
psyche surgery as ‘The Downward Spiral adding a definite article to everything
— The Fragile‘, ‘The Wretched‘, ‘The Frail‘ — in a cheap bid for goth portent.
It chases ‘crossover’ and that means compromise. It means grey rock sleet
masquerading as a storm beneath a haze of ‘experimental‘ textures. It means too
many tracks that sound like the mutton of ‘Head Like A Hole‘ dressed as
sacrificial lamb, too many attempts at doomed tenderness (the aspirant Zen shimmer
of ‘La Mer‘, ‘Ripe (With Decay)‘) that push the old purity-stained-by-filth
schtick. Too much mood. Not enough songs.
Here comes Trent knocking at your door asking for
your misery. And all you can say is, ‘Sorry, already given’, and send him away.
The Goth. The Outdated. The Ever So Slightly Foolish. (5)