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Nine Inch Nails – The Slip

June 3, 2008

The price of admission for a Nine Inch Nails album has hit all ends of the spectrum. From high prices for The Fragile and Still to a fascinating marketing campaign for Year Zero, to a choose your own price and format trick following in Radiohead’s footsteps (which Reznor subsequently trash talked), and now to the ultimate price, free.

Yes, that’s right, you no longer have to pay anything for a Nine Inch Nails album, but unfortunately, you probably wouldn’t have paid that much for it anyway. The sad truth is that The Slip sounds like a rehashed With Teeth, except worse in almost every respect. In fact, I’m sure we could line up tracks from either album back to back and anyone who had not heard either album before could not distinguish any stylistic differences. The music features pounding drums like With Teeth, tired riffs with the same tonal leaps and dull modulations, and lyrics that once again work against Trent Reznor’s for the most part excellent vocal talent.

Almost every song is disposable. The album starts out like it might actually be doing something worthwhile. A first impression might sense that Reznor has decided to keep each track moving at a fast pace, improving upon the With Teeth style flaw that was many slow, boring passages. However, both 1,000,000 and Letting You are fairly forgettable. Even the single, Discipline, has nothing new to offer. But nothing much anyone can say will ease the blow of the downright embarassing Echoplex.

The album is not without it’s successes. The victories come in through the hushed soundscapes of 999,999, Corona Radiata, and Lights In The Sky, which says something about Reznor’s knack for his recently taken up ambient style. But until Ghosts V-VIII, we have The Slip to listen to, and the ambient tracks will not save it.

Anyone except a Nine Inch Nails fan would want to skip this album, even at the free price. And fans will be disappointed too. The style that With Teeth established was never that great to begin with, but The Slip makes With Teeth look like The Downward Spiral. The fact of the matter is that Trent Reznor will never make any albums as good as Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, or The Fragile ever again, and it is time to stop believing that he can.

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