I’ve yammered on ceaselessly about Nine Inch Nails (NIN) lately, but have covered everything but the band’s music. ‘Bout time I get to that, don’t you think?
One of the best ways to preview music without buying it first is to check CDs out of your local public library. That’s how I discovered that I enjoy Moby’s music, particularly his Hotel album. I checked out NIN’s Year Zero, the one the alternate reality game is based on, and the album With Teeth. I think I’ve found my new musical obsession.
Like Dave Matthews Band (DMB), the music of NIN is complex. Each song is distinct from the others, which is why I’m drawn to these musicians instead of to a group like Nickelback, where the songs are almost indistinguishable from one another. (Sorry, Nickelback fans. I’m sure you can tell the difference.) Also like DMB, NIN songs sport lyrics that are mysterious, strong enough to make a point, but vague enough for you to make the full meaning personal. I’m finding that story ideas are coming to mind through some of the NIN songs I hear, just as they came to me while listening to DMB. While I keep comparing NIN to DMB, please understand that they don’t sound alike. NIN’s songs range from very hard to gentle, while DMB’s music has a certain steady state rambling quality. With NIN’s music, you get the sense that Trent Reznor knows exactly where he’s going.
Of the two albums, I prefer With Teeth to Year Zero. It’s spent more time in my CD player, that’s for sure. Two songs on With Teeth are particularly poignant – Only and Right Where It Belongs. Each strikes a different mood. Only struts out like a tranny in eight-inch red platform heels onto a voguing catwalk and shakes her booty in an all of her glorious existentialism. I literally laughed when I first heard it because I didn’t expect NIN to have produced anything that would be suitable for a gay dance club. How many pop singers could get away with the line, “I’m losing focus, kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself”?
In contrast, Right Where It Belongs, with its repetitive background drone and mournful piano line, causes Sadness to sit on my chest and poke its fingers into my eyes until I weep. The lyrics are devastating in a good way. They’ve got me thinking about a creative vein I could mine. The song also cements my belief that Enya and Trent Reznor could work together and produce interesting music.
On the strength of With Teeth and Year Zero, I’m going to continue my exploration of NIN’s music. That, and add these to my list of CDs to purchase. I don’t think the library will let me keep these forever.