It arrived promptly on September 3rd. My Amazon pre-order of “Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks” vinyl/CD combo.
I have spent the time since I did my preorder avoiding any and all information and propaganda regarding the album, much like someone who taped the Superbowl and was trying to not find out who won until the next day. I had heard the song “Came Back Haunted” from the album before I had ordered. I also accidentally saw the headline of a review of the CD that seemed favorable afterwards. However I didn’t see anything else. This was the first time I had the opportunity to get the new NIN album on the release day.
I opened it with glee. It was 180 gram vinyl and felt heavy.
There it was. I spent a few minutes looking at the pictures on the front and back cover. There is always a theme of textures and colors on the NIN CD’s and this one is no exception. This time the added photo elements was cool.
I tried to open it only slightly and get the CD out. No dice.
Crafty packaging forced me to open the shrink wrap on the vinyl to get to the CD. It was in one of the sleeves of the cover with the vinyl, not just in between. I was afraid of that. Ah well.
I immediately ripped the CD and put it on my phone so I could listen to it that night.
I didn’t end up staying awake long enough to check it out. However, the next day… I listened to it several times.
I listened to it once straight through in order and once on random. Then I listened a few more times. I wanted to LOVE it but I didn’t. It is good, don’t get me wrong, but it is not great. I was slightly disappointed. Think “Ghosts” meets the vocals from “Year Zero” meets the music from either How To Destroy Angels albums.
Of all the NIN albums, this is probably my least favorite. That kills me to say, but it’s true. Maybe it will grow on me, and again, it’s not bad, just not full of hooks and anger and I find myself waiting for it to kick in (Dalton knows what I mean) but it rarely does. The drums are sedate and the vocals are sedate and the lyrics are sedate. I loved “Ghosts”, there doesn’t need to be vocals for me to like NIN, but these lyrics seem a wee bit trite for me. I hope I’m wrong and that one day, like the Jane’s Addiction album “The Great Escape Artist” that I dismissed in the beginning, it becomes a favorite, but for right now, it is more of a memento for me, a vinyl. It hurts me to review this so poorly, but it is what it is.
The Eater of Dreams – This is a sound snippet. A sound texture that opens the CD and is 52 seconds you will never get back. Why include something like this and what is the process for picking this seeming random series of clicks in particular?
Copy of a – This one never gets going. It’s just plain dull. Maybe that is the point of the song.
Came Back Haunted – Now this one, which they pre-released is great. This is what I hoped the whole album would be. This is the classic NIN that we know and love.
Find My Way – It doesn’t have to be crashing and bashing, I love some NIN slow songs. This one is not one of them. It could be a showcase of emotion, but the vocals barely change register. No hooks or tempo changes or anything. If you don’t like the first 10 seconds skip it.
All Time Low – This has to be an outtake from “Year Zero”. Sigh.
Disappointed – Another middle of the road track.
Everything – Wow, this sounds like NIN redoing a song that was a collaboration between The Cure and REM.
Satellite – This one I like. There is a little variation, though it still lacks that moment where it all kicks in and goes boom in your headphones.
Various Methods of Escape – This one is a nice slow one. Nice changes and soft chorus with some edge bass work. I really like the vocals on this one.
Running – At 1:26 there is a guitar riff. Really? This is not the inspired piercing music I have come to love from NIN.
I Would For You – I love this one. Good hooks, tempo changes, affected vocals. Good stuff.
In Two – Another great track. Vocals have a bit of pain and the music is jangly. This one is a highlight for me.
While I’m Still Here – Only the novelty of a saxophone (unusual for NIN) that kicks in at 3:40 saves this song.
Black Noise – Another sound texture clocking in a 1:28. This time there is some music in it to guide you out. It bookends the album with The Eater of Dreams.
It pains me to say it, but I can only give “Hesitation Marks” a 3 out of 5.