Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of 2008: #20. Nine Inch Nails - The Slip

Note: Due to the density of albums being presented over the upcoming weeks, I won't be posting links with them. If you want a link for any of the albums shown, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

This pick is due almost solely to my latent NIN-fanboyism. Trent Reznor's 7th studio album, and his second of the year after the entirely instrumental Ghosts I-IV, was released for free on his website to no warning or antecedent fanfare, a refreshing gesture, if not quite as an anomalous one as it was presented by the media. On The Slip, Reznor continues his long-standing fascination with electronics, incorporating both the disparate soundscapes of Ghosts and the dance-laden industrial pop of Year Zero into the album, with the result being a fun, if not necessarily ground-breaking release.

Yet despite the fact that most everything Reznor has done here has been done before by him (and better), The Slip still manages to feel like a comprehensive and self-contained album. The dark, eerie electronic vibes that open "999,999" still feel at home next to the jumpy, discordant "Discipline", even though the two songs could easily be placed into separate NIN albums without any trouble (Ghosts and With Teeth, respectively). Never does this feel like an assorted collection of B-sides, despite the fact that it very well could be, considering that Reznor only planned on releasing it as an EP, and that it was written and recorded in a span of two months. As a result, the average song quality isn't quite up to the par for NIN; "Letting You" sounds noisy for the sake of noisiness, and "Corona Radiata" is a seven plus minute instrumental track that never goes anywhere at all. But despite these faults, The Slip still manages to be enjoyable of its own regard. No, it's not the temperamental masterpiece that was The Fragile, but then again, it never tries to be. This is just Reznor having fun recording and giving back to his fans in the process. That the result is even more fun for the listener should be considered a bonus, a symbol that the relationship between artist and fan can still thrive in spite of a recording industry that seems intent on waging war between the two.

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