Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
By Peter Menocal for Defy Magazine on May 3, 2005
Reading a NIN review is like reading a joke without a punch line. So many critics go through great pains to waste lines describing how Reznor creates his music and will use the words “dark and cold” enough times to make their editorial department saw off a shotgun.
With the release of With Teeth, Trent Reznor has forged an album that bites to the core of his rabid feelings of emptiness, feelings of contentment, and all the stunning contradictions he so ironically and humbly points out. Even while he may not spell out all of these contrasting ideals with lyrics all the time, there’s enough hints that the new NIN is anything but dark.
Take track one, “All the Love in the World”. Sure there’s the brooding, fuzz wastelands of desolation and isolation. Until Reznor bursts into a near Ben Folds piano and vocals that sound more like John Mayer than the man that swore he’d fuck us like an animal. “You Know What You Are” will satisfy anyone a bit nostalgic (and probably a bit scared) after reading the words Ben Folds and John Mayer in a NIN review. Its highly syncopated drum beats and angst-riddled eardrum escapades are exactly what some of us missed. Single “The Hand That Feeds” hints at a new found funkiness and affinity for catchiness that our reluctant prince of catchiness only hinted at on earlier efforts. While “Only” erupts into a disco drumbeat more at home in a club than With Teeth, but somehow Trent works it into a testament of self-revelation.
Don’t think though that NIN has completely abandoned and lost their edge. Reznor’s calculations are absurdly clear and dynamic on With Teeth. Every influence is painted on with supreme expertise and his artistic integrity remains intact even though he simultaneously feeds and rebels against the Industrial machine that he helped create. Disagree? His songs don’t.