It goes without saying that whenever Trent Reznor circles back to work once again as Nine Inch Nails, we have something of a curiousity on our hands. Not only through a distinctly varied back catalogue has the Academy Award winner proven to have a vast palette of paints in which to dip his musical brush, yet this time around the rather suddenly announced and hurriedly released ‘Hesitation Marks’ had clear potential to be half-baked and ill-formed. Luckily, this eighth offering from the band sees them in spectacular form, and quickly dis-spells any understandable concerns with a lo-fi lesson in dynamics.
At its best, the record recalls the chilling introspection and mesmeric ambiance of the most illustrious moments in the Reznor catalogue. ‘Satellite’ revolves around an ominous bounce, ‘I Would For You’ is bleak yet sublimely alluring, and ‘Find My Way’ follows suit with its transfixing minimalism. Indeed, it’s testament to Nine Inch Nails past and present talents here as the band turn in a record which manages to do a lot with a little. Built on a foundation of drum beats and with only (for the most part) a smattering of electronic touches to accompany them, the songs hook with a magnetic beauty which burrows effortlessly.
There are misfires however, not least the starkly out of place pop-punkisms of ‘Everything’, which would undoubtedly have been best left on the cutting room floor and which perhaps will halt the album’s potential to be labelled a classic in the eyes of long-term fans.
‘Hesitation Marks’ typically requires repeat listening to truly unmask all of its subtle gems, yet it also sees Nine Inch Nails at perhaps their most accessible and, if not upbeat it certainly on occasional straddles the line of cheerful. Maybe this was to be expected from a man who has achieved such ample success as Reznor has in recent years, yet what’s crucially apparent here is that his well of ideas and celebrated song-smithery promises only more epidemic acclaim.
Written by Tony Bliss
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.