Listen: First song from Trent Reznor's new How To Destroy Angels
'A Drowning' is a slow-dancin' downer
It's just as well. Now Nine Inch Nails is no longer part of the Interscope family and the veteran hard-rocker has repeatedly flipped an angry bird at the traditional cycle and scope of releasing records. Regardless of how you feel about Pitchfork's editorial voice(s) and content, the site represents something -- a bastion of indie-hipness, perhaps, a thrust of musical leanings that flirts with the mega-mainstream but is more largely known for its treasury of obscurities.
Even up to two or three years ago, some magazine like Rolling Stone or whatever would have landed the exclusive, with perhaps other sites such as this one or Pitchfork itself being strung along for a few weeks with scraps of info, much like howtodestroyangels.com did over the past week, times 10.
But now that media cycle is abolished, at least in Reznor's eyes. And perhaps it's for the best: because "A Drowning" is no groundbreaking, brain-melting introduction. It's not a single, it's not for radio play, it ain't the whistle that gets you on board.
More like bored. As previously reported, Reznor is collaborating with his wife, ex-West Indian Girl girl Mariqueen Maandig in How To Destroy Angels and, in this, it's essentially a Sleepytime Tea version of NIN slow-jammers. With a snails pace of tracks like "Me I'm Not" from "Year Zero" or "The Mark Has Been Made" from "The Fragile," this piece differs in that it never even pretends it's going to pay off.
Part of it is Maandig's voice. While the lyrical theme and stanzas must be from Reznor's pen, she doesn't seem to even try to make it her own, even with the repeating pattern, wide-open for some fleshing-out. We're waiting for that switch -- one NIN fans have grown accustomed to -- when that sultry, self-hating mumble to flip up to the next octave, and the shouting begins... or we're waiting for something else interesting to happen, that never quite occurs.
No, this isn't Nine Inch Nails, and I can't quite force it into that box. But the underlying ferocity never quite goes anywhere, like a simmer that never quite goes into a boil, even with the churning happenings around the 5:00 mark. I'm hardly curious to hear more, a strange sensation to have now that the palate's empty and Reznor can fill it with anything. Maybe we'll get more tomorrow. On Stereogum. Or BrooklynVegan, or whatever.
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