Thursday, July 14, 2005

March of the dumbfucks

While we're on the subject of shitty music, bullshit teenage angst, and things being better when you're angry, I need to talk about Nine Inch Nails. I'm sure it will come a no huge surprise that I was a big NIN fan back in high school. You know, when I was all pissed and depressed, but that was acceptable because that's what teenagers do. Trent Reznor's screaming fit in quite nicely with life at that age. Pretty Hate Machine is pretty much a blueprint for my relationship with my first girlfriend, and that should tell you a lot about me right there. I can't listen to the song "Something I can never have" because I will literally start crying. But this isn't about me; this is about Trent.

Now, Trent Reznor was never what we would call lyrically gifted. "I wanna fuck you like an ANIMAL!!!!" That's real deep, Trent. So yeah, NIN's lyrics were pretty shallow, but they served a purpose. Set against the backdrop of a bunch of noise that sounded pretty good, and it worked. It was what it was, especially for dumbass kids like I was. I'm still somewhat of a dumbass kid, of course, so the old stuff still sounds pretty good. Ignoring "Something I can never have," it doesn't quite resonate with me like it did, but that's life. We've all gotta grow up (more or less) sometime.

Now, when I say "old stuff," I'm talking "The Perfect Drug" and prior work. "Perfect Drug" wasn't even quite up to par -- a little too poppy, I felt -- but it still worked. The Fragile, on the other hand, sucked. I bought it out of some kind of ridiculous obsessive-compulsive obligation just because I had all the Halos up to that point, but I was so pissed at the album that I've never actually listened to the second disc of my copy.

I thought I remember hearing that prior to The Fragile, Trent got happy and shit. That clearly is not conducive to good music.

Enter With Teeth, which is more of the same that we got with the last album, in that it's fucking weak. The title alone is pure bullshit. As ETP put it, spooky language! I haven't listened to all of the album yet, and like with anything else, I'm going to act like I'm still on firm ground to criticize. Oh and I am, because all we need is Exhibit A: Track #8, "Only."

I like this track a lot. Not because I'm laughing with it, though, but because I'm laughing at it. The production work is kind of catchy. Not what one would expect from NIN, the NIN of old, that is. Trent really isn't singing on this track, he's kinda just talking throughout the whole thing. The song is done John McCrea style, and the world will never be complete unless if Cake does a cover of "Only." But let's continue with why "Only" really epitomizes how bad NIN sucks now. Here's a sample line:

Less concerned... About fitting into the world
Your world that is

Whoa-ho, step back! That has got to be the worst fucking lyric EVER. What kind of oh-woe-is-me, I'm-only-14 kind of mentality does it take to write that kind of schlock? I would be willing to bet that Trent stayed up all night thinking that one up, too. I know I said that Trent's lyrics were never exactly hard-hitting, but Jesus. Then there's this:

I just made you up to hurt myself
And it worked
Yes it did!

I just made you up to hurt myself? Way to go, Trent, you bullshit in-denial tough guy. I just made you up to hurt myself? What? And you know, I can't really drive home the significance of the "Yes it did!" line -- you need to listen to it yourself and hear Trent's delivery in order to understand the hilarity. More:

The tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be scab and I had this funny feeling
Like I just knew it was something bad

Trent, you played the "tiniest little dot" card back with "Down in it" when you still kicked ass instead of fucked ass, so leave it alone, will 'ya?

There was about an 80-year lull between The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. We kept lamenting, "When is Trent gonna release a new, full album?" All the singles and remixes and shit were great, but we wanted something totally new. Well, the wait wasn't worth it. It'd be better if I could convince myself that I just made The Fragile and With Teeth up to hurt myself, but I didn't. Maybe the problem is that I outgrew all that when I turned 16, or maybe the problem is that Trent Reznor isn't good anymore, and he hasn't been for a long time.

I started listening to some of the other tracks on With Teeth one day, but I was like, fuck it, I'll get to this later. I'm sure I'll be listening to the full album in all its shit-glory real soon, now.

In conclusion, if you think that Nine Inch Nails is still good, you're wrong. If you ever thought that NIN was really deep and poignant, you were always wrong.

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