Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile


4.5
superb

Review

by Derek Marchewka USER (21 Reviews)
September 7th, 2009 | 28 replies | 6,076 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It’s the type of album where its problems upon first listen end up not being problems at all.

14 of 14 thought this review was well written

To start off, let us take a glance at The Fragile’s album cover. In the top right corner, we see what appears to be the Nine Inch Nails symbol, but most of it is obstructed from view by an unusual red sheet, if you will, that is propped up against two surfaces that appear to be walls. The symbol is blocked in such a way that it seems as if the logo is hiding. Above the red board, the album cover’s background is hard to quantify. The very top is a thin strip of white canvas, with a bit of grey beneath it that is strangely pixilated. The colors on the cover are deeply saturated to the effect that you can almost make out the texture of them if you could touch it. All of these strange elements bring up a word; mystery. Mystery is a word that can not only sum up this strange album cover, but the entire album. The Fragile was a mystery in many ways; the effect it had on Trent Reznor, its place in the Nine Inch Nails’ discography, the vague and non-linear concept that winds itself around the songs, but most importantly, the mystery within the music itself.

If Nine Inch Nails are to be attributed with anything, it is that they are always a group that delivers a unique, ominous package with every release. Whether or not that equates to quality, it is undeniable that with each release there is something new to expect. With The Fragile, Nine Inch Nails offer their most unique release that can only be summed up as a journey. A journey of complete mental delusion that goes boldly out to uncharted waters, and certainly teeters to the edges of destruction and failure, but somehow emerges even more glorious at the end of it all. The path that the album goes on is one that creates moments of sheer brilliance and unique songwriting. Although once that unique path has been chosen, the album looses its footing, going off on detached sequences of odd incoherency. What is so captivating and interesting when looking back on The Fragile, is that these seemingly bad and inconsistent elements of the record contribute even more to the mysterious feel that is present, which makes the album even more peculiar.

One of the reasons The Fragile is so deserving of fascination is because the record is ambitious beyond belief. The album is two discs, with twenty three songs between the two of them. It is not only the length that explains its ambitiousness; it’s the odyssey of changing atmosphere and instrumental feel as the record progresses. Right from the starting opener Somewhat Damaged, a wave of innovation is presented as the acoustic guitar increases in angst by the strum, sprawling into a truly raw and viscerally angry song. As the album progresses, different instruments and tonal approaches are used in various ways to create an overall package of abstract sound and truly alternative industrial.

An interesting issue with the record is that because of its ever changing sound and enormous length, the irregularity in the music is pushed to a point of almost breaking. In most double-disc albums, the extra amount of songs lead to an overall mediocre package. The Fragile is similar to this rule for a different reason. Although most of them are brilliant pieces, when stacking up a bunch of songs that are so different from one another usually doesn’t work out too well. Especially in the second disc, the songs get so lost in being unique and odd that the direction of the album becomes skewed. The entire album is so unconventional that it begins to teeter very close to absolute incoherency. This would be an actual problem if it wasn’t for the fact that The Fragile is supposed to incoherent.

As stated earlier, mystery is a word that is apparent when analyzing The Fragile. Another compelling aspect is the alleged concept that is in the record. Although throughout the record’s strenuous inconsistency, with lyrical themes that all have a very diseased and decayed emotion to them, it is hard to determine if there is even a concept at all. There are certain thematic indications, but the lyrical continuity is as diverse as the music. What’s compelling is that even the idea of a concept within this massive and abstract record speaks layers to how intriguing it is. The Fragile spirals into so many different emotional feels and original atmospheres that to even conceive a linear direction in terms of lyrical approach adds even more the mysterious theme.

This idea of mystery in every facet of the album is what proves its brilliance. On looking back, the record is far from perfect. The second disc strays far off course from any direction, and as an entire package The Fragile really is strange. But there is something about this album that is brilliant, something that can’t be easily defined or even recognized. When viewed in a different light, some of the overly weird and out of place songs are truly unique. When they don’t fit into the mold of the record, they are songs to gawk at, and are the ones that perfectly display the mysterious essence that has been captured flawlessly by this album. And it is the realization of aspects like those that truly show how brilliant The Fragile really is.



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user ratings (1853)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Brent McCann (5)
    It's funny how everything you swore would never change is different now...

    thebigcumdown (4)
    Album that will keep you thirsty for more....

    TAnin (4.5)
    Would've been great as a single album. Second half needs some trimming, or just cutting al...

    Alex Beebe (1.5)
    “It didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted ...

  • megalomanic (5)
    Trent Reznor's masterpiece, wrongfully overshadowed by The Downward Spiral....

    Killerhit (4.5)
    And the sea will come to kiss me, for I am going home....

    Edmund Blackadder (4)
    Trent Reznor creates a gorgeous, genre spanning album....

    David Ham (4.5)
    A mixed bag really. The Left disc sports a fuller sound and a high standard while the Righ...

  • howdy123 (5)
    This album overall is one of Trent’s best works, musically, lyrically, and vocally. He ...

    Porter W. Richards (5)
    The most varied, atmospheric, and wild Nine Inch Nails release to date creates one of the ...

    ImAround (4)
    While this stunning double album comes with its flaws, the high points and the glimpses of...

    Killtacular (4)
    ...

  • OrbDragon (4.5)
    ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Chewie
September 7th 2009



4531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review took forever to write, I really spent a long time to get my words out correctly. I understand there are a lot of reviews for this, but none of the 4.5 reviews are ones that aren't track by track. What was funny was that I didn't exactly know what rating I'd end up with when I started the review. I actually began thinking it was a 2.5, but through reviewing it, I realized how much more I liked it.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 7th 2009



5775 Comments


I have a hard time getting into Nine Inch Nails.

Good review

Digging: Mimicking Birds - Mimicking Birds

BassDemon333
September 7th 2009



3291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album took so long for me to get into but now I see how incredible it is. good review. its a grower, thats for sure. left disc is superior to right.

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

Boognish
September 7th 2009



1003 Comments


Album sucks sweaty balls

rotterdog
September 7th 2009



486 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol... nice. Album's awesome.

Titan50
September 7th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0


had no idea your mother put out an album


ZING!

shindip
September 7th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is awesome.

joplinpicasso
September 7th 2009



427 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nah, Right Side is superior to Left, but Left has better individual songs, ya dig?

XulOnerom
September 7th 2009



1817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great album and great review

foreverendeared
September 7th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

awesome review for my favorite NIN album

Wizard
September 7th 2009



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It’s the type of album where its problems upon first listen end up not being problems at all.

ends up*

awesome review for my favorite NIN album

As far as your idea is towards a concept, there really isn't one. Reread the lyrics and research your brains out; I can't find one.

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
September 7th 2009



14884 Comments


"ends up*"

wrong

Wizard
September 7th 2009



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahhhh I see that. Thanks for correcting my correction hahahaha.

Chewie
September 7th 2009



4531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ok thanks then

Wizard
September 7th 2009



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No thanks to my stupidity ; P.

foreverendeared
September 7th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wiz, i'm confused on why you quoted me and said "As far as your idea is towards a concept, there really isn't one. Reread the lyrics and research your brains out; I can't find one."

Tulannical
September 7th 2009



2051 Comments


this is probably my second favorite of their albums, right behind tds. nice review

Chewie
September 7th 2009



4531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if you could give it a pos, it would mean a lot

Tulannical
September 7th 2009



2051 Comments


done sorry about that

Chewie
September 7th 2009



4531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks, I'm just really happy now that I have the most pos'd review for this.



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