Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

Released 3rd September 2013 on Columbia

Industrial-rock/ Alternative

Hesitation marks

American industrial-rock act Nine Inch Nails have finally hit back into the big time with this latest release by producing what might be the finest disco album of the past twenty years. Giving us such wonderful dark-pop numbers as Copy A, Satellite, and All Time Low and being everything that Bowie should have been in the late nineties this record really delivers a gigantic burst of strength and originality just when I thought that NIN had finally given up. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that Hesitation Marks is front-man Trent Reznor’s strongest record since 1994’s The Downward Spiral.

Instead of simply rehashing the noisy angst of With Teeth Reznor has, with this album, completely retraced his steps and come full circle with a triumphant return to the reliance on solid, danceable beats and bare bones catchiness heard on Pretty Hate Machine, only this time with the experience and hindsight that comes with spending such a long time in the music business. I mean, the hypnotic drum loops of Disappointed and the funky brass grabs of Black Noise just work so well with this record’s subtle textures and understated pathos that I couldn’t help but fall in love and get caught up in all the fun that is to be had with a man who’s finally realized he’s about to hit fifty.

Gone is the obnoxiously self-obsessed rage of albums like The Fragile, and it’s been replaced with a unique brand of self-conscious alterna-pop. I mean, you can just hear the smile of Reznor’s face as he revels in the irony of playing the dance-floor funk hit of All Time Low to the generation who grew up on Head Like A Hole, and I think those once hyper-depressive teens can easily get in on this wonderful joke. The real crowning achievement of this record’s iron expectation-fucking, however, is the hilariously optimistic, Spiderbait sounding, pop-rock tune Everything. I mean, how happy can the man who sang Closer be? The answer is apparently ‘incredibly’, and this, dear reader, was enough to bring a smile to even my sarcastic lips.

The album is not without its issues, however. Like every other NIN record every track runs on for too long, but at least with this one they don’t always feel as if they do. There are also a couple of nap-time cuts that have been thrown in the mix (Various Methods Of Escape, Find My Way), but these are few and far between and there’s so much other great material on here that these eyelid weights become somewhat endearing and are able to command some degree of interest. Really, the worst point of this record was the mandatory Trent Reznor studio-wank, this time taking the form of Running.

I conclusion I’ve got to say that Hesitation Marks is probably the most exciting and original release by an established artist that I’ve heard all year. Not to mention the fact that it’s one of the most exciting and original NIN records I’ve ever heard. I really would highly recommend this one, even if you’re not already a big fan of the act. I am sure it will not disappoint.

So, thanks Trent Reznor for brightening up this critic’s year and thanks for finally giving me something that can justify my continuing fondness for Nine Inch Nails.

RATING: ****/5

And here is All Time Low, one of the many wonderful tracks from NIN’s brand new record.


The deluxe edition of Hesitation Marks comes with a couple of bonus remixes tacked on at the end. Usually I’m dubious about this kind of market ploy, but with this record (as with most NIN records) they’ve put up a good selection and the quality of these remixes for once actually justifies the price tag that comes with the word ‘deluxe’.

I’d especially recommend the delicious Breyer P-Orridge Howler mix of While I’m Still Here.


One thought on “Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

  1. Pingback: Top Picks of September 2013 | Lachlan J. Faces The Music

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