CD Review: Nine Inch Nails
With Teeth | Interscope
By Matt Cappiello for Daily Nexus on April 21, 2005
On the first track of the new Nine Inch Nails album, With Teeth, Trent Reznor utters the words, "Why do you get all the love in the world?" in a blues-tinted falsetto. The bass drum backs him up with a trance-techno thud, and the electric piano is drawn straight from a commercial pop wonderland. We have entered a world of antithesis, a world where a songwriter wears a crown of neurotic thorns, lined with seductive, romantic roses. Simply put, this is classic Nine Inch Nails.
Reznor still knows how to raise his middle finger with pride, as the song "You Know What You Are?" bluntly proclaims, "You better take a good look 'cause you're full of shit!" Amen, Trentie-boy. His lyrics span a plethora of psychiatric disorders -- which is, of course, what makes him so cuddly. His bandmates, including Jeordie White from A Perfect Circle, know how to complement him, making like Pink and getting the party started. "The Hand That Feeds" is the master military-industrial complex, the blistering self-help anthem we've waited over three years for. The Nails' last release, The Fragile, evoked an operatic Pink Floydesque majesty. A wonderful achievement it was, but conversely different than With Teeth. This time around, Trent seems more concerned with a shorter, succinct fury.
In a world of Wal-Mart and cowboy presidents, we need a smidgen of brass-knuckled rage to wake us up. Since presidents can't box anymore, we turn to sports and rock music for inspiration and Reznor is the grand illusion, the martyr for dismay and solipsistic self-obsession. His lyrics paint a frighteningly discolored picture of humanity, but maybe that picture is the closest to the truth. As he says, "Are you brave enough to see? / Do you want to change it?"