The Fragile

Originally published in Pugged In on November 1, 1999

Genre: Industrial

Chart Action: This dismal double disc hit number 1 in its first week on the pop chart.

Reviewed By: Bob Waliszewski

Pro-Social Content: Despite a pessimistic view of life, Trent Reznor occasionally steps out of the darkness. He wants to help a girl overcome pain ("The Fragile") and finds strength in a friendship ("We're in This Together").

Objectionable Content: Awash in poetic angst and self-loathing, these songs trade melody for melancholy. The artist views himself as poisoned, worthless, uncaring ("Somewhat Damaged"), wretched ("The Frail") and empty ("Please"). On "The Frail," he gripes, "God himself will reach his f---ing arm through/Just to push you down." According to "Even Deeper" and "The Big Come Down," even upbeat days are more mirage than oasis, serving only to make things worse in the end. The nasty "Starf---ers, Inc." involves vindictive name-calling and a reference to one man performing oral sex on another. Anger. Despair. Bitterness toward God. The advisory label is much deserved for an assortment of blasphemies and obscenities.

Summary/Advisory: This follow-up to 1994's The Downward Spiral (5 million copies sold) avoids angry songs about animalistic sex and suicide. For that we are truly grateful. Still, more than 100 minutes of self-destructiveness and pain make The Fragile only a mild improvement. Encourage teens to pray for Reznor instead of wallowing in his ear-splitting hopelessness.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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