Maybe the melodramatic adolescent in me isn't completely dead yet or maybe a decade-defining record and a live show that only seems to improve with age buys you more second chances than it should. Whatever the case, despite the overpacked misfire that was 'The Fragile' and the turgid no-fun zone remix album that followed it, I hit play with Trent Reznor's latest single, 'The Hand That Feeds' in the machine, and listened with white-knuckled anticipation.
The muted, twittering effects of the intro fill my ears for a couple of measures - hell it could go either way - and then the stomping drumbeat kicks in over the sleazy, churning bassline and everything's all right again. Reznor seems to have remembered the fact that his best tracks, regardless of how many demonic howls or overdriven guitars they contain, are anchored by beats that most dance artists would kill for. This single bobs and weaves like a shadow boxing prizefighter, all coiled tension and crystaline precision; then the band ratchets the noise-level up to eleven before it marches towards a bloody climax.
As the 'The Hand That Feeds' fades out, the last five years seem to disappear completely; Nine Inch Nails isn't a pretentious white elephant anymore - it's a well-oiled machine pumping out satanic grooves and crunching guitars. Forget the anti-establishment sentiment. This sucker's all about moving your hips. It's the sound of Trent getting his boogie on. Where the hell was this song five years ago?
9Nick Cowen's Score