Music: Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

Remember back in 1994 when you were screaming along to Head Like A Hole and Closer with your best friends in the park and wondering how one man could make the exact music that displayed the anger and pain that you yourself were feeling at the time? And later on in 1999 when you were singing We’re in This Together from the balcony of your apartment at 3am to the distress of that stupid neighbor who was trying to sleep with his girlfriend in one of the apartments across the street? Seeing this band perform live in 2000 during your first trip to the States, and deepening the love that you already felt was unconditional for this band, and mainly for the man behind (and in front of) it all: Trent Reznor. Sometimes when I read the journals written by my younger self I have to laugh at how many times I declare my love for Trent Reznor and Robert Smith (although I would like to say that my love for both was always equal, I do think that Robert jumps ahead a little, but that’s a whole other story). In any case, this review is not going to be in any way objective, and who cares if it is anyway? I LOVE Nine Inch Nails. Have loved them ever since I first heard Pretty Hate Machine. I don’t write on my blog to be objective – I write about music, books, movies, art that I love, rant about things that really annoy me and ramble on about things that I miss and love and care about. 

“I am whole, I am free” - Everything

I’ve been waiting for the release of a new NIN album since I read a really well written article about Trent Reznor, written by Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker and published in the December, 17 2012 issue. Imagine my heart jumping when I read that he was planning the release of a new album in 2013! He had previously said that NIN was over (although I had kind of refused to believe that, and just thought he may need a break to work on other projects until it was time to regroup and produce another opus). Hesitation Marks is to be released next week, on September 3rd (although those lucky Australians can already buy it as it was released a week earlier there), but you can already stream it for free on iTunes and hear it for yourself. I never read anyone else’s reviews before reviewing an album myself, especially if it concerns one of my favourite bands, so I cannot say if it has been well received or not. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVE it. I honestly wasn’t as keen on the three albums released after With Teeth in 2005, or maybe just wasn’t in the frame of mind I needed to be to listen to the albums (Year Zero, Ghosts I-IV and The Slip) but for me this one marks a return to the NIN that I adore. REALLY adore.

For those of you looking for another Downward Spiral or even Pretty Hate Machine, Hesitation Marks won’t be what you are looking for. Instead it’s the creation of an evolved NIN, one where Trent is older and more mature. There is less anger, there are less pulsions towards self-destruction and self-hatred, more self-reflection and inner thought, and the music and lyrics portray that. I think Find My Way displays this feeling perfectly, a slow but powerful song, taunting at times but direct in approach: “I’m just trying to find my way”. But then you hear Came Back Haunted or All Time Low and you realize that the album goes back to sounds that made NIN so popular years ago – with a newer edge. And then songs like Satellite and Everything are entirely new and old sounds mixed together to create something completely different, but similar at the same time.  All in all I think that what makes Hesitation Marks so good is that it flows perfectly and is a creation of old and new, of evolution, of hunger and anger, of love and pain, of despair and hope. Basically a brilliant Nine Inch Nails album.

My favourite songs on the album right now are Came Back Haunted, Find My Way, Various Methods of Escape, I Would For You and Everything. But I really think that listening to the album as a whole is the best way to hear how brilliant it actually is.

And don’t worry – the world is still going to end. The last song on the album tells us that. Not everything changes, not even with age. And it feels like the perfect end to a wonderful album.
“A little more, every day, falls apart and slips away. I don't mind, I'm okay, wish it didn't, have to end this way” – While I’m Still Here

NIN - Official Website

Music: Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

I literally have about 20 different stories and poems that I have started writing but haven’t finished yet, and woke up this morning with the intent on at least finishing one thing before I have to open the bar… But of course I got sidetracked yet again when I noticed a friend post something about going to a Bat For Lashes show in England tonight… Which lead me to immediately think that if she was doing a tour then she must have released a new album. Ten minutes later I had downloaded The Haunted Man on my phone and went up to the roof to listen to it with my tea and cigarette.

I’ve loved Bat For Lashes (Natasha Khan) ever since she released her amazing first album Fur and Gold. She’s wonderfully talented and her music always takes me somewhere else. Sometimes to another planet, sometimes to a dream world that her words create and mesh with my own visions, and sometimes somewhere further into my head. I especially love walking around New York on a grey day and listening to Two Suns, forgetting that I am myself and pretending that I too have an alter-ego called Pearl that is living in my body. I still listen to Siren Song on repeat on bad days when I want everything and everyone to go away. I saw her live a few years ago, at Webster Hall by myself and it was a wonderful experience. Natasha commands the whole room with her voice and stage presence – I definitely want to see her again when she comes back here.

On a first listen The Haunted Man is in the same vein as the previous albums, a little more mature, but still the same ethereal feeling, the one that takes you elsewhere. Sadness, happiness, love and more love. It’s actually difficult to explain how brilliant she is unless you actually know what her music and lyrics sound like, because then you will understand exactly what I am trying to describe. A part-Siouxsie blended with a Kate Bush with a side of PJ Harvey and an air of Stevie Nicks (who all happen to be some of my absolute favourite female artists), but also with her own originality that keeps her standing out. She plays all of her own instruments, is a beautiful writer and I feel that The Haunted Man showcases the latter even more than the previous two albums. I am particularly obsessed with the first single, Laura, right now – it weirdly goes with the last short story I wrote a couple of weeks ago, about one of those people everyone should always have in their life. I love it when strange coincidences like that happen… The other song I keep listening to right now is The Haunted Man“I couldn’t sleep last night…” Those are the two songs that immediately stood out to me, but there are some other gems on the album too. Actually the album on a whole just sounded amazing.

I have a feeling I am going to be listening to this album for the next month.

From Laura:
When your smile is so wide and your heels are so high
You can't cry
Put your glad rags on and let's sing along
To that lonely song