Trent Reznor's decision to resurrect Nine Inch Nails, just when you thought he’d settled as the Oscar-winning composer du jour, is a typically contrary move from one of rock’s most unique characters. But which Trent do we get on Hesitation Marks?
Surely it’s too much to expect the nihilistic, single-minded genius Trent we adored on The Downward Spiral to return but, equally, bettering the shrugging, water-treading Trent of The Slip isn’t too much to ask, is it?
Correct on both counts. Hesitation Marks is a fine album that bears the hallmarks of classic NIN, reminiscent of the more synth-heavy Pretty Hate Machine-era material melded with the ambient Ghosts I-IV if you are looking for direct comparisons, but is unlikely to be mentioned in the same breath as Reznor’s finest work.
There are moments of sublime magic: first single Came Back Haunted, the minimalistic Find My Way and the chilling Satellite are filled with a dark beauty few other artists could manage, and on the pulsing In Two he still sounds as raw as a wounded animal, but there’s also the odd misfire, like the almost pop-punk Everything, that woefully lack the quality necessary to coexist in such a stellar back catalogue. Overall though, the Trent we get is a typically fine one.