Trent Reznor and I go way back. We have quite a history together. While many a goth can say the same, I saw his nose hairs at a concert once. And he may have looked at me. Or looked over in the area I was standing. Or looked at the girl with her shirt over her head next to me. Whatever. The point is, we have had a long, complex relationship. We had out good, fun, wild times (WithA TeethA) and, like all relationships, our tough times (The Downward Spiral). We knew each other so well, in that comfortable, familiar, finish-each-other’s-lyrics place (Pretty Hate Machine) and our pensive, reflective times (The Fragile.)
In the summer of 2013, as I had done for years, I eagerly waited to see where our relationship would go next. And to be honest, things were a little shaky. Sobriety. How to Destroy Angels. ATTICUS. Bodybuilding.
But my love was strong. I preordered the next phase of our relationship, Hesitation Marks, and waited. I went deluxe. All or nothin’, baby. It was truly an “it’s me or the tambourine” moment. I carefully, lovingly, tingling with anticipation, removed the cellophane. I removed the disc with shaking hands, closed my eyes as I slid it in.
Now, to put this whole thing in context, I will post my initial review.
- “The Eater of Dreams”: 3/5
Noise. This is standard stuff. He’s gotta get into it.
- “Copy of a”: 5/5
Holy Christ, all of it, all of it was worth it. THIS is my Trent. All the elements that make me love him so are here. Bloop bloops, random guitar strumming, jammin’ drum machine, singyelling, yelling, spitting. If the rest of the album is like this, this will be one of the best.
- “Came Back Haunted”: 3/5
. . . Lyrics aren’t his strong point, are they? That’s okay. We’ve got a creepy digital glockenspiel and lots of echo. More bloops. And HEY!!! That’s so sneaky, Trent. You put in the little piano ditty you end 99.99999999999992% of your songs with.
- “Find My Way”: 1.758037503875893r9326/5
I think we used to sing this as kids while pointing at each other’s shoes to choose which one of us was going to climb the fence into the scary-ass old man’s death yard to get our kickball back. Except this is more boring.
- “All Time Low”: :(/5
Did he just say . . . “BABY”? This is Nine Inch Nails, right? Not Britney Spears? Are you sure? Because if you switched out my albums, I’m going to put a horse head in your bed. WHY IS THERE TRENT REZNOR IN MY FINAL FANTASY
- “Disappointed”: 2/83742985693056838946t234096t8y43986ty6439857u39tu8p90
YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT I AM DISAPPOINTED
- “Everything”: NO
- “Satellite”: flashbacks/5
Remember when he already wrote this song and it was called “The Great Destroyer” and it was ten thousand times better even though at least seven-eighths of the song was garbage-disposal noises?
- “Various Methods of Escape”: −9
Can I be done now?
AND THAT’S AS FAR AS I GOT. Trent Reznor and I were officially OVER.
I went through all the breakup stages. Anger. Denial. Grief. ice-cream eating. Taking stoic, black-and-white selfies (okay, yes, I do that anyway, but I did it with extra angst).
But now that I’m over it—I’ve moved on to Maynard James Keenan (he is FANCY with his wine making and meditation and excessive merchandising.) I have figured out that Hesitation Marks was nothing but a huge SCREW YOU from Trent. And of course, it’s 100 percent intentional. It’s so in your face I am baffled by the people who so completely miss that as the entire point of that album . . . like myself, at first. I mean, first of all, look at the track listings. The first actual song on the album is “Copy of a,” which is a really clever setup. This song was in the most familiar, expected NIN style. Then, at the end of “Came Back Haunted,” he throws in the background his signature closing, but it’s sort of obscured and buried. And “All Time Low” is the most drastic departure from the Trent that we know and love on this album—followed directly by “Disappointed.” If that’s not enough, he throws in the tongue-sticking-out, hand-flapping “Everything.”
I get it.
The thing is, Hesitation Marks phenomenal album on a technical level. Perhaps his best, even. The sound mixing, engineering, and performance are top notch. But I don’t like it because this album was MADE specifically as a GFY to fans like me. This is his response to people pigeonholing him as the King of the Electro-Goths. Hesitation Marks is so different, and so different ON PURPOSE, that to me it lacks the core attraction in the first place. And I realize now that I am guilty of that. I didn’t love Trent as an artist; I loved the art he created. I wasn’t in a relationship with him (even though I really did see his nose hairs); I was in a relationship with his music. And he changed. And he should.
I hated this album. But after a bit of space and revisiting it, I respect him even more than ever, even though I think I may have rage-threw it like a herpes-covered poop Frisbee into the night.
I hope we can still be friends.