Nine Inch Nails - _The Slip_
(The Null Corporation, 2008)
by: Daniel Cairns (8 out of 10)
Trent Reznor's grown up. The lank-haired, scrawny, drug-munching misanthrope of old has given way to a well dressed, clean, sensibly coiffured middle-aged man. Who also happens to be built like a brick shit-house nowadays. Judging by recent interviews, he's ceased to occupy the headspace of a man caught between Gary Numan and Charles Manson. In some ways, it's like saying goodbye. How many young idiots idolised the gothic romantic who gained notoriety for wanting to administer an animalistic rogering? I know I did. That self same man now walks his dog listening to country music. You'd think his quieter life would lead to a calmer more pussy-ish type of music, wouldn't you?

Well, pooh-pooh to you, because he's written a rollicking, up-tempo rock-disco record that thrusts its groin at naysayers and cynics alike. Seriously, some of _The Slip_ wouldn't sound out of place in a dance club. We're not talking Ibiza style levels of pill-head inanity, but this is an unashamed exercise in booty-shaking, and for the most part it works gloriously.

Oh, and did I mention the record is free?

Yep, that's right. As a defiant flip of the bird to the record industry, he's releasing this record gratis through God bless him.

What you get for your (total lack of) money is a typical latter day NIN record, meaning sparse minimalist beats, distorted fuzzy keyboards, the occasional guitar and Trent Reznor crooning more melodiously than he ever has. Whilst earlier labours like _The Downward Spiral_ were scrutinised and worked upon with an obscene attention to detail, later efforts have seen Reznor operate on a looser, more instinctive level. Like 2007's excellent _Year Zero_, _The Slip_ feels like a selection of tracks jammed out and recorded in the space of a day. None of the tunes feel over-laboured, but they can feel a little underdeveloped at times, such as album lowlight "Discipline", which sounds like the Dandy Warhols going disco.

However, the rest of the album is business as usual. The first six tracks are all Trent at his hip-shaking best. "Letting You" even manages to recall a less messy sounding Atari Teenage Riot. Where _The Slip_ gets its extra points though, is its closing salvo. While the first half pumped and pounded, the latter half sees a return to Nine Inch Nails at their most reflective. "Lights in the Sky" proves that as far as piano led ballads go, few can touch Trent Reznor for spine-tingling minor melody. "Corona Radiata" meanwhile is a seven minute soundscape that wouldn't sound out of place on a Vangelis album.

The proceedings can get a little repetitive at times, and the music doesn't have the depth or sinister attraction of his more famous works, but for a man the wrong side of forty, it's amazing just how relevant Reznor still is to the musical landscape. _The Slip_ isn't a revolution by any means, but it shows that Trent Reznor's creative juices are still flowing, and considering it's a free gift from the man, I suggest you accept graciously.


(article published 28/2/2009)

4/25/2007 J Ulrey 9.5 Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
7/30/2009 D Cairns Nine Inch Nails / Jane's Addiction / Mew Going Down t'Spiral
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