Friday, June 03, 2005

Nine Inch Nails ... they're ... they're back

Nine Inch Nails qualifies as one of those frustrating bands that was revolutionary but usually not that good. Yes, they ("they" in this case really meaning Trent Reznor) were pioneers in marrying industrial sounds with rock. But was that such a good thing?

The other frustrating aspect of Nine Inch Nails was that Reznor always strained to be saying something really important. Can you actually remember the message of any Nine Inch Nails song other than Closer? Even that's a stretch, unless you count wanting to have sex in a bad way as a "message." Other than that, it's the same vague nihilism that dragged down a lot of alt-rock's various subgenres for the next decade.

The redeeming qualities -- first of all, Reznor didn't always take himself too seriously. The video for March of the Pigs was a clever bit of deadpan self-parody in which he threw an amusing tantrum. (Classic Beavis & Butt-head: They see Reznor toss away his mike at the end, then quip "Thank you very much, we're Nine Inch Nails.")

And best of all, they had a handful of good songs. They seemed to spend the rest of their time trying to replicate those songs, but that's OK.

They're back after a few years off, which is a bit of a surprise. They were such a product of their time that a Frankie Goes To Hollywood reunion would make more sense somehow.

Yet they're somehow welcome. Maybe The Hand That Feeds sounds exactly like Nine Inch Nails circa 1994, as if nothing else has happened. Fine. More power to them.

No comments: