Boy-o-boy, do I like me some Nine Inch Nails. Ever since I really got into them somewhen last year, their, who am I kidding, his brand of masochistic industrial rock has stood out to me as one of the most unique and distinctive styles of music I’ve ever heard. Though we haven’t got new album yet, since 2013’s Hesitation Marks, creative force Trent Reznor has been putting together some nice lil’ EPs to tide fans over, the latest of which we’ll be taking a peek at today.
The EP opens up on extremely strong footing with Less Than. This 80s-infused track is permeated with an extremely dancey couplet of a punchy beat and infectious catchy synth loop, sounding straight off of Turbo Kid‘s soundtrack. However, this also features Reznor’s famously strained yet seductive delivery, giving the song an eerie vibe on top of all that danceable goodness. Like many songs of NIN past, the instrumental here is meticulously layered and yet effortlessly cool, and this song is one of the strongest I’ve seen from the band in quite some time.
Immediately, however, the pace of the record slows down with the following track, The Lovers. Taking the slightly ominous feel of the previous song and tuning up a whole big bunch, with distorted vocals and an off-putting key sample. Moreover, the intertwining instrumental has a really steady but noticeable progression throughout the run time. However, I’m not sure I’m keen on the repetitive lyrics and familiar piano chords.
After that, we plunge straight into the nocturnal grooves of This Isn’t The Place. Immediately opening on this liquid-midnight beat and distorted bassline to match, the song adds a dash of colour to the instrumental with some well chosen piano notes and a gradual filling of the sound. Then, we get a different shade of Reznor’s vocals, with some falsetto being thrown in among an overall lighter feel to his singing, rather than the hate-f*ck, gritted teeth growling we usually get. All in all, definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album.
However, then we get right back into that dirty, muddy NIN we know and love, with Not Anymore. The glitchy opening instrumental and tip-toe vocals are obviously alluding to some kind of big explosion of sound, which inevitably comes with March Of The Pigs-esque chorus, where the unquantised drums shove their way to the front of the song, for better or worse. This process repeats three times to make a track that, while perfectly acceptable in all honesty, definitely has the ring of repetition.
Following that, Reznor deep dives up his own ass with the closer to the EP, The Background World. While, on face value, this song is actually quite a catchy, if instrumentally brooding, very Nine Inch Nails-y way to close out a slice-of-alright EP, with solid vocal and performances all round. However, the ending to the song, by which I mean the same three chords being played on repeat while getting gradually more distorted until its unintelligable mush for 7 MINUTES, really ruins the song and puts a damper on the entire EP for me.
Overall, Nine Inch Nails’ second extended play is a perfectly listenable and, at times, really dancey good time. Reznor’s vocals have a good bit of variation and the instrumentals, for the most part, carry that signiture NIN layering and brooding atmosphere. However, some slight repetition leads me to think that this thing isn’t really breaking a lot of new ground and the final 7 minutes of the project is complete self-indulgent trash and spoils it.
BEST TRACKS: Less Than
WORST TRACKS: The Background World
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations