In what could be another step forward towards a new way of promoting and distributing music in the digital age, Nine Inch Nails released their new album for free on their website. Lossy and Lossless versions of “The Slip” are making their way around the world as eager fans count down the kilobytes remaining on their downloads.
So is this album any good? After listening to Nine Inch Nails since my self-imposed troubled adolescence, through album after album, and tour after tour, it would appear NiN has evolved much like a finely-aged wine. Their new recording demonstrates experience in their well-placed rhythms and notable lyrics. The opening track, 999,999 appears to be little more than a symbolic placeholder with no musical representation. It does, however flow nicely into 1,000,000 which has a classic NiN tone blended into an energetic rhythm. Letting You has a very fast and over-distorted quality about it, reminiscent of their late 90s sound.
Discipline is a great track, which brings me back to title tracks like Closer. At this point it becomes somewhat apparent at the nostalgic qualities of this recording, and how it blends many of the things that made Nine Inch Nails work, while leaving out qualities that fans are happy they left behind. Echoplex starts with a cheesy drum beat that sounds as though it came right off an old keyboard. This eyebrow-raising moment is quickly rescued by Trent’s best vocal piece on this recording. Head Down began as my least favorite piece, sounding seemingly thrown together and sloppy. This track grows on you near the middle, giving you a mix of tone and fuzz that leaves you almost wanting more. Towards the end, it levels out and has a steady rhythm.
Lights in the Sky brings back memories of hearing Hurt for the first time. The lyrics are hard to hear over the piano playing, which is quite intentional and delightfully entangling. It’s is as immersive as it is disturbing, and the following track Corona Radiata gives an eerie sense of what’s to come. The Four of Us are Dying emerges from the mellow track and into a river of sound and ambience.
Demon Seed is a great ending to a solid album that gives listeners a blend of virtually every sound and mood from the tracks it follows.
Overall, this is certainly a recording worth listening to, and the price can’t be beat. When the CD goes on sale this summer, I’ll certainly pick up a copy in thanks for this wonderful opportunity to experience a new era for Nine Inch Nails. You can get your free copy of The Slip at NiN.com
Matt Ryan and Kali