Review Summary: No hesitation
Although Trent Reznor hadn't put out a new Nine Inch Nails album in over five years, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that he was slacking off during that time. Movie soundtracks, How to Destroy Angels, his wife and kids, you name it. These past few years have been pretty good for him; he got married to his girlfriend Mariqueen Maandig, who gave birth to two kids, and he even won a Grammy for his work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
soundtrack. Hesitation Marks
shows how good Reznor's life has been recently; what makes this album different from the rest of the Nine Inch Nails catalog is that Trent is no longer the angsty, drug-addicted psychopath who wanted to *** girls like an animal or turn your head into a hole. This is the new him, and his music, for good or bad, will reflect that.
is still far from being a soft record, though. The album's lead single "Came Back Haunted" has a pulsating synth riff reminiscent of "Closer", with a big, catchy hook to top it all off. "Find My Way"'s slow and thumping beat manages to complement its brooding lyrics very well, and is one of the album's highlights. But where Hesitation Marks
succeeds best is in Trent's ability to make completely infectious choruses that are guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days to come. From the poppy "Everything" to the Pretty Hate Machine
inspired "Copy of A", the album seems to focus on memorable hooks rather than angst, and that's what makes Hesitation Marks
so different from previous albums like Year Zero
or The Fragile
. "I Would For You" manages to be the best of both worlds; an anthemic hook that manages to be one of the most captivating of the album, while still being heavy and gloomy at the same time.
Unfortunately, the album does have a few rather dull tracks on it; "Disappointed" features quite possibly the worst vocal performance on the album along with a repetitive beat, while "All Time Low"'s funky and pounding rhythms would be a highlight of the album if not for Trent's horrible delivery. Luckily, a few worthless tracks don't hinder Hesitation Marks
from being a worthy addition in the increasing Nine Inch Nails discography. It may put a higher focus on addictive melodies than angst, unlike previous NIN records, but there's really nothing wrong with him doing so. His life has been pretty damn good for him recently, so why shouldn't his music reflect his state of mind? If you think a 48-year old Trent will be making songs like “Star***ers, Inc.” when he’s married with children, you’re surely mistaken. Hesitation Marks
marks a new era for Reznor; one where his music isn’t defined by anger, but by extravagant hooks and refrains instead.