Nine Inch Nails "With Teeth"

W C's Review

It's been over 5 years since Trent Reznor FLOORED the world with The Fragile. The Fragile was, perhaps, the most overlooked and under-appreciated album of all time. How so? It came out in 1999; when the music industry was eating its own tail. The challenge had been made to...but we're not talking about The Fragile. We're talking about the new one; "With Teeth".

2005; living in big O, just down the street from CD World. It doesn't even matter how good any new NIN is; Trent's legion of fans will be drooling all over any musical statement made--it's like a "lifetime achievement" award for soapy Susan Lucci. We all love Nine Inch Nails; all of us. We all have major life revelations directly inspired by Pretty Hate Machine, magnificent disappointments encompassed by the Downward Spiral, and my personal connection to Further Down the Spiral. And The Fragile; oh, don't get me started. I can spend 5 paragraphs setting up how Trent doesn't need to prove anything else. Yo Trent; just puke out some over-produced tinkerings to give us something to talk about, dude; we'll worship the ground you stomp around on. Allright?

And then the tears come. And you're sitting there, crying like a baby; you're fucking 40 years old, 40!, and CRYING, because the new Nine Inch Nails is THAT good. You're already obsessed with the final track "Right Where It Belongs"--it's not even the best song on the damn CD, maybe not even in the top 3, but it's YOUR song now, YOUR song already, and will be YOUR song for a long time; why? Because it's THAT good.

1. All the Love in the World: Wow. Very back-to-basics NIN. Excellent use of the piano.

2. You Know What You Are?: This starts really fast and hard. I see how this is going; this will turn into a scream-fest. There it is. Oh, and the f-word. Go Trent. Wow. This is what we've come to expect from NIN.

3. The Collector: This should be some kind of a narrative story, with background noise. Empathy run amuck. The intelligent psycho; music to make Ted Bundy proud. This is really good; the strange feeling that something is lacking may stem from the fact that NIN music is ALWAYS really good. He's mumbling to himself...this is fantastic.

4. The Hand That Feeds: Here's your single; this is the song that people hear on the radio or MTV and say; 'Oh; new NIN. Cool.' Very effective use of everything here; synthesizer, vocals and bass. It achieves the needed "catchiness" of a single, and it has enough repetition. This is about AS radio-friendly as NIN ever needs to be. This song is really good, but it doesn't stand out as more than the best song for radio. I'm already a fan, Trent, I want to hear you be dark and brutal. This safe shit is more about paying the bills than appealing to the distorted drive behind being a misunderstood being. Any true NIN fan knows that these song types are not at the creative core of his songwriting ability.

5. Love is Not Enough: Good album cut. It leaves me hanging so that I will definitely stick around to hear what's going to happen next. Did I say "good"? No; this is a GREAT album cut. This is the type of song you play to people, and they go 'wow, that's really good'. Then you tell 'em that it's just album filler; this is just Trent flexing a little bit--he's not even breaking a sweat. Yet.

6. Every Day is Exactly the Same: Soft start; I already like the potential. And the rythym; yes, it's a bassline good enough to be anywhere. Here's where we're going to get a little dark. I can feel it. The sacred and mundane; every day is exactly the same...There has to be something more...How did this all get started? Dark? Brutal? This is CLASSIC Nine Inch Nails; this could be on any album. It's so familiar--even from the first listen. I should know these lyrics already; even though I haven't heard them before. For true fans, this should be a top 3 tune. No wonder the reviews for this CD are so great!

7. With Teeth: Title track, so this must have something special to it. Let's finger it out together. Strange beat; very mysterious. Vocal echos; and it slows down...darker. Kids; don't try this at home. Then, at 3 minutes and change in; it just drops out...for a minute. Okay; then it comes back fierce! This song is just weird enough to appeal to the fan--but turn away the first-timer. Very impressive stuff here. Trent's saying 'I don't need new fans.' This song is just weird enough to make people shake their heads and go "huh?" Sure; so let's name the album "With Teeth".

8. Only: Starting with a real drum beat. This could already be the 2nd single--even before any lyrics (Well, it's another single anyway. And have you seen the video for this thing? Amazing stuff.). Thanks to 80's music singles. 'Sometimes I can see right through myself'. Too true. Remember "Down in it", from Pretty Hate Machine? I was a FREAK for "Down In It". This song is it's distant, brain-damaged cousin. That's a compliment, by the way. "I'll cross my heart, and hope to die. But the needle's already in my eye. And all the world's weight is on my back..." Sorry. Did I mention that I like this song?

9. Getting Smaller: Boy this starts fast. Another narrative? Oh yeah; 'face in the crowd'. I've heard this one on the radio, too. This is pretty tight. And you COULD call this more back-to-basics, with those stiff drums. Right; and ride out this swarm at the end, appeal to the speed freaks. Very well done. This could be the best on the album.

10. Sunspots. This is what Woody named his round yellow California beach towels. That's how Woody made millions of $ before he ever got on "Cheers". Now you know. This song is softer. And here's a good NIN chorus. It ain't broke, it never was broke, there ain't nothing to fix here. Listen to that! That is fantastic.

11. The Line Begins to Blur: Quite an obnoxious beginning there; let's work the speakers one time. Oh, and the chorus slows down into standard spectacle.

12. Beside You in Time: Write your own review. He doesn't have to DO anything else; we're just waiting to see how this album will end. Will this song be another single (unlikely), or possibly the deep and complicated masterpiece that falls just outside the realm of standard grading? So far so good. At 3 minutes, he hasn't committed to anything. Hmmm. So he's showing his ability to hold interest without working too hard; the kick is coming. There it is! Classic NIN; the kind of music that we used to twitch to. It's good, and it's weird; nobody does it better.

13. Right Where It Belongs: Wow. I have many things to say about this song; here is the first one: Don't Try This At Home. Trent can pull this off well, make it sound easy enough, even make you dream that you can do it yourself... but YOU cannot. So you play it's even better? How did he do that? That's not fair. You know Trent's only 3 months older than me, right? He and I are having pretty good years at age 40 here; okay, he's having a MUCH better year than I am. HE'S not crying while he reads my poetry, but I'M crying while I listen to his new album. "And it's all...right where it belongs." This; the background noise for my mid-life crisis. Woo.

So; Trent deals with turning 40 by dropping another A-grade record on us. He will be remembered for having helped teens and 20-somethings find their inner Goth for 16 years now. The exceptional music continues to flow.

Don't ask me to compare the 4 CD's. I started this review by praising the Fragile. Every NIN CD has it's place in history. This one is no weaker, or stronger, than the other 3. Good job.

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