As he returns from a long hiatus, Trent Reznor, the sole member of Nine Inch Nails, takes a good time to reflect upon the band’s career and his own personal maturity in the band’s latest album, “Hesitation Marks.” Like the band’s past works, the main subject of the new Nine Inch Nails material is Reznor himself. However, in “Hesitation Marks” Reznor sounds far removed from the man behind the music in the past.
One big difference comes from his shift in vocal approach. Reznor and co producer Alan Moulder avoided an all-screaming technique from the past. The two instead took on the inverse with the chorus growing more hushed, creating a chilly result. Toning down the signature screams from Nine Inch Nails takes away some urgency in the songs of “Hesitation Marks,” but Reznor is no longer dependent on sharp screams to sound confident. He’s tough as ever without showing much insecurity, a characteristic heavily explored in the past.
Reznor also experiments the music of Nine Inch Nails into more diverse frontiers. The general structure of the new Nine Inch Nails songs are stripped out and left to its bare essentials. Heavy guitars and industrial electronics are still in the band’s DNA, but “Hesitation Marks” also has songs similar to Depeche Mode. Much like his new, grown persona, Reznor’s musical direction is open and fearless.
If there is any problem to be had, it would be the running time being a bit on the long side. As dense and ambitious as “Hesitation Marks” is, though, it is also accessible to a wider audience. Reznor’s sophisticated pop writing should also convert previous skeptics who saw Nine Inch Nails as just noise. “Hesitation Marks” not only cements the impressive longevity of Nine Inch Nails, but also serves as a fresh introduction to newcomers. For a singer who topped the charts screaming obscenities, Reznor has come a long way.
Information about “Hesitation Marks” can be found at nin.com.
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