Nine Inch Nails- With Teeth (Interscope)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. All The Love In The World
2. You Know What You Are?
3. The Collector
4. The Hand That Feeds
5. Love Is Not Enough
6. Every Day Is Exactly The Same
7. With Teeth
8. Only
9. Getting Smaller
10. Sunspots
11. The Line Begins To Blur
12. Beside You In Time
13. Right Where It Belongs



Trent Reznor is not a happy man. And he likes to swear. A lot.

And fans of Nine Inch Nails who have come to expect this will get much more gloom, doom and “fucks” by listening to NIN’s latest, With Teeth.

Reznor doesn’t exactly rush his studio releases along. Considering that Pretty Hate Machine, NIN’s first studio album, debuted in 1989, With Teeth marks only the fourth Nine Inch Nails release. That’s only four studio releases in 16 years, and the first since 1999’s brilliant The Fragile.

With so many years between releases, it would seem that each new disc would be considerably different than the last. The Fragile, a sprawling two-disc set, was vastly different than 1994’s Downward Spiral. So that said, it’s a bit surprising that With Teeth seems to continue in the style of The Fragile.

Yet despite attempting to carry on in this manner, Reznor loses a lot of what made The Fragile such a masterpiece. The Fragile offered lots of light and dark musically – there were lots of heavy, aggressive moments and the usual industrial flavors, but those were tempered with beautiful piano and synth pieces. With Teeth comes across as a near-constant aural bludgeoning. Individually, With Teeth has some great tunes. The opening “All The Love In The World” is a rare example where Reznor mixes the heavy and lighter styles masterfully, but after this, there’s not a lot of variance in the music, and many of the tracks sort of run together after awhile.

Still – there are the few bits of music that touch new ground. “Only” sees Reznor delivering a smarmy spoken vocal which comes across as quite amusing, though I can’t tell if that was the point or not. However, this song displays one of Reznor’s problems- during the chorus, he sings “There is no you, there is only me” before switching it to “There is no fucking you, there is only me.” Now I’m no prude and have nothing against swearing in a song if it fits the need of the song. The Fragile’s “Starfuckers, Inc.,” for example, is where it works perfectly. But on much of With Teeth, it seems like Reznor’s cursing is extraneous - like he’s doing it with the intent to get teenage kids to chuckle and to get a rise out of their parents, not to better suit the individual songs.

The musical and verbal onslaught finally subsides in time for With Teeth’s standout track – the closing “Right Where It Belongs.” A wonderful song with Reznor backed only by piano and synthesizers, along with some cool production tricks (the introduction of some crowd noise and raising the volume on Reznor’s vocal delivery midway through the track are some nice touches). A great way to close out the disc.

Now if there were only more of these moments scattered throughout With Teeth. Maybe the balance from The Fragile will return when the next NIN disc is released in say, 2012. Or should I say, in fucking 2012.

And while I’m swearing – Interscope has had to do one of the cheapest ploys I’ve ever seen a record company do with a release. Rather than have the package contain the usual booklet, something virtually every CD ever released has – With Teeth lacks this. Instead, the inside of the digipack instructs the buyer to find “complete information” at the NIN website, where one can print out their own booklet. If I’m paying full price for a CD – I don’t think I should then have to go out of the way to print out the booklet when it should have been with the disc in the first place. Not to mention that I find the online booklet to be nearly illegible.

I want to swear now. Badly!

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