After a six year wait, Nine Inch Nails is back with a whole 3-song single from the upcoming full-length release entitled The Fragile. Okay, so there is a bit of sarcasm in my voice, and now that I've listened to this release I think there's good reason behind it. Even though my musical interests have changed quite a bit in the past several years (NIN used to be my fave group), I've always kind of kept an interest in what Trent Reznor was up to. I bought the film soundtracks that he worked on and was really stoked about all the different directions that the remixers went on his Perfect Drug EP about 2 years back. Not only that, but Nothing Records has been signing up great electronic artists by the handfull and releasing their work within this side of the Atlantic. I guess I was hoping for an amalgamation of all these different things on new work, but this first single seems stuck in neutral.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this release, but I think it was something a bit different than he had done in the past, and that's part of the reason I'm feeling dissapointed by it all. Granted, I've heard the arguments by fans that the title track ("The Day The World Went Away") is innovative because it doesn't employ any drums, but after listening to it several times, I can't help but notice much of a difference. Reznor has done tracks without drums tons of times and they've come out much more interesting than this fuzzed-out wannabe space-rock track. I'm not sure if he was trying to pull a Radiohead OK Computer or what, but it just doesn't quite work for me. The "quiet" mix of the track doesn't do a whole lot more for me.
The only other song on the disc is a soft-loud B-Side track called "Starfuckers, Inc" that unfortunately follows about the same song structure as "Heresy" off The Downward Spiral or Wish off Broken. Sure, it kind of gets me revved-up, but it really isn't anything that comes as a surprise. Really, the most interesting part of the track is trying to figure out whether the lyrics he's penned (including a snag of a Joni Mitchell line) are aimed at Marylin Manson, Courtney Love, or both.
As a side note, the vinyl version of the single contains a quite cool remix of "TDTWWA" by Porter Ricks. The vocals are a lot more subdued and a sub-terranian bass pulse moves the track along at a much more exciting pace. It's another reminder that Reznor sure knows how to pick remixers (he's worked with Coil, Aphex Twin, Meat Beat Manifesto, Plug, and the Orb in the past). If you're vinyl-friendly, it might be something to seek out.
One good thing is that the single is very cheaply priced, for those still wanting to complete their Halo collection of Nine Inch Nails releases. I've seen the disc priced as cheap as 2 bucks new and never over $3.50. The songs on this release aren't super-encouraging, but with well over 20 tracks on a 2CD set, I know I'll still probably go out and buy The Fragile anyway. Hopefully I'm not saying the same thing in a month and a half when I've heard it.