With Teeth







Juni 2005


Still Hurts


Autor: Eric Weisbard







An Animal Fucker gets back to basics: pain, static and pop


Nine Inch Nails



Really spicy food at a good restaurant hits your buds from all over; it isn‘t just an overdose of hot peppers. The same holds with Trent Reznor‘s noise Pop. Flare the volume and you find more to savor; cartoon industrial effects reverberate as fleshed-out orchestration, with gentler parts inserted for contrast and flow. Even better, as Johnny Cash‘s death-letter cover of ‘Hurt“ showed, Reznor is a double threat who grounds muso composition in sturdy pop structures and broadly shared sentiments, however dark. Too bad he‘s also one of the prototypical disappointing ‘90s rockers: taking too long between albums, worrying needlessly about his cred, tying himself up in knots no one else even realizes are there.

The fourth Nine Inch Nails studio full-length in the band‘s 16 years discards the electronica-damaged symphonic tripe of 1999’s The Fragile for an hour‘s worth of the good stuff: churning, yearning synth-rock. By the second track, with the drums machine-gunning inhumanly and Reznor screaming ‘Dont you fucking know what you are?“ over a plunging bass note, it‘s clear that ol‘ blood-in-his-eyes is back. This isn‘t a sustained achievement to match 1994‘s The Downward Spiral (where even the stray tracks had reptilian majesty), just a veteran‘s delighted resubmergence in the fusion of the industrial and the confessional he created with the earlier Pretty Hate Machine album and Broken EP.

It isn‘t clear how NIN‘s original audience will hear With Teeth: Dance to ‘The Hand That Feeds“ with their toddlers? Blast “Every Day Is Exactly the Same“ at the office? Well, yes, hopefully. No less than country or classic rock, angsty techno-pop turns out to be a perfectly good soundtrack for confronting middle age, as Reznor shows in the aches-and-painsy-grumbles of the I‘m-starting-to-fade-away pairing of “Only“ and Getting Smaller.“ He‘ll never stop being a therapy case, and he‘ll never lose his gift for making the recording studio an exquisite torture chamber.

Eric Weisbard