The beautiful thing about Hesitation Marks, the latest offering from Trent Reznor, is that it is a Nine Inch Nails album without any expectations because it literally appeared out of thin air about 2 months ago. Being a completely unexpected album means it can be NIN’s most experimental yet. They could go pop (“Everything”), industrial (“Came Back Haunted”), electronica (“Disappointed”)….hell, they could even do dubstep if Reznor willed it (Thankfully they didn’t go that route). Like Reznor says during the opening salvo of “Copy Of A”: “I am just a copy of a copy of a copy/Everything I say has come before…”. And it has. So what’s next?
I am still sticking with my claim that Hesitation Marks, the resurrected Nine Inch Nails’ eighth album, is the 21st Century Pretty Hate Machine. PHM 2.0 if you will. By going forward, Reznor has gone back to the beginning. If PHM would’ve come out in 2013, it would’ve sounded very similar to Hesitation Marks I believe.
That’s not to say that the new NIN is a throwback by any means. Quite the contrary in fact. Reznor explores electro-funk/hip-hop on “All Time Low” with the Oscar winner adopting a surprising falsetto which is, I’m not gonna lie, actually kinda sexy. Elsewhere (And actually throughout HM), Reznor takes the minimalist approach choosing to build songs off of repeated beats (“Various Methods Of Escape”, “Running”) while on other songs (“In Two”) the new father goes darker and more mechanical than any other NIN recording. Again, with nothing to lose why not go for broke?
That mentality is probably what makes Hesitation Marks, hands down, one of the most coherent and interesting NIN releases since The Downward Spiral.