ALBUM REVIEW: NINE INCH NAILS — HESITATION MARKS

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After Trent Reznor’s self-imposed hiatus to work on other projects, the long awaited ninth studio album by Nine Inch Nails—Hesitation Marks is finally here. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my post last week noting that rock knows no generation gap. In front of me at the music store was a kid generations younger buying the same album on the day of its release. It also says a lot about the work of Reznor and his ability to find and grow an audience since Nine Inch Nail’s 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine.

IMMEDIATELY UPON HEARING THE FIRST PIP PIP PIP IN MY RIGHT EAR OF HESITATION MARKS I HAD THAT YES! FEELING.

The intro, The Eater Of Dreams sets the electronic tone and launches into probably one of the more commercial tracks on the album, Copy Of A, a binaural heady track with an ambient back beat. The first track released from the album, Came Back Haunted, is pretty reminiscent of Closer (The Downward Spiral—1994). When I first heard it I wasn’t wowed but was still pleased to hear something that sounded familiar yet new. Now I really like the track in the context of the album. NIN has definitely taken a bit of a lighter turn with Hesitation Marks—many of the tracks are more commercial and a few are very non-traditional NIN songs.

THE SOUND MIGHT BE LIGHTER BUT THE PAYOFF IS THERE. TRIBAL. RHYTHMIC. HAUNTING. MELODIC.

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Reznor takes the progressive chord changes, electronic rhythms and occasional dissonance to a place that will sound familiar yet reinvented. If you prefer the super industrial and hyper dark sounds of yesteryear this may not be your favorite NIN album, but for many like myself who have sort of evolved from a darker musical place, Hesitation Marks will feel fresh without totally selling out.

I was somewhat surprised by the straight ahead rock groove of the track called Everything. It felt very Cure inspired—only with harmonies.

Find My Way has a haunted tribal feel that sounds like Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel had a baby. My favorite track is probably All Time Low, which feels very modern with the sick sounds of one of my guitar idols Adrian Belewwhose erie riffs are all over this album. Reznor, who is well known for interesting collaborations, has Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) playing on Copy Of A. I’m not generally a fan of remixes, but the remixes on the Deluxe addition are cool too, especially the All Time Low mix by Todd Rundgren.

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I REALLY LOVED THE SONG SATELLITE, AND FELT THE PRINCE INFLUENCE IN A BIG WAY.

For me, NIN takes Hesitation Marks to a more spiritual place. The usual themes of the dark journey are still prevalent, but the end result is a bit more enlightened than some of NIN’s previous albums—with the overall effect more hopeful than resigned.

Nine Inch Nails is currently touring North America and I’m really looking forward to the show now that I’ve heard the album. See you there rockers!

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