Cherry on the cake

MUSICMembers of the band

Album: Hesitation Marks

Band: Nine Inch Nails

Music: Columbia, The Null Cooperation

Price: Rs 499

Rating: ****

In February 2009, when Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor announced that the band would be taking a hiatus, his collaboration with Atticus Ross (on The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Mariqueen Mandig (frontwoman of West Indian Girl fame and later his wife) ensured he never really left the scene. Nearly five years later, NIN's eighth studio album Hesitation Marks is promising. Reznor's signature foreplay with noise and imagery makes a come-back, with the addition of minimalist, almost danceable (or let's say sway-able) beats and the timely injection of mature, melodic vocals.

Hesitation Marks refers to the wounds before an attempted suicide. Pin-pricked beats, distorted sounds, oscillations between shadow vocals and full-blown screams and desolate lyrics mark Copy of, Come back haunted, In two and All time low. Reznor departs from this predictability with Find my way, which has a heavy piano influence, a rare falsetto, and relatable vocals, and Everything, which can be best described as a grunge-rock version of Gloria Gaynor's I will survive.

Words like "dark", "emo" or even "crazy" have often been used to describe NIN's sound. Various methods of escape, Disappointed and Satellite, however, are different. Running has whacky, tribal beats that almost make your eyes pop out the first time you hear it. While I'm still here and Black noise blend into each other, dismissing the idea of a timeline, borrowing choruses, and beats. The beauty of Reznor's experimentation is that he takes his time to merge the NIN identity with a new sound.

Reznor is sober, and married with children now, but he has spoken earlier about his alcohol and drug abuse. You can feel the transformation, as NIN oscillates from whispers to screams, to now whispering screams in Hesitation Marks. The looming industrial and techno sound can be attributed to Atticus Ross, who has worked with Reznor on a studio album for the first time. There is a slight The Social Network hangover to the album, but not enough to complain about. Over the years, NIN's music has moved from adrenalised aggression to a digital, minimal and self-reflective sound, and Hestitation Marks is the cherry on the cake.

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