Trent Reznor’s second release of 2008, The Slip, almost comes as a present for those fans and casual listeners of Nine Inch Nails that wouldn’t be too excited about or courageous enough to try out a four-disc album of mere instrumentals. After all, Reznor’s witty yet straightforward lyrics coupled with his fustian singing played a huge part in giving his music such uniqueness. For a man who made industrial music so accessible by exhuming it from the nadirs of the underground movement, alienating his walloping fan-base -- which also consists of casual listeners of top 40 radio -- without accompanying Ghosts I–IV with a regular album would be quite uncharacteristic, especially since his brand has such mass appeal.
Similar to Reznor’s 1992 release Broken, The Slip for the most part has a sense of urgenc and delivers quick punches in a very short time. The opening instrumental “999,999” sets the stage for the meat of the album, which is quick barrage of five back-to-back intense, high-octane tracks. Reznor has the same bite in these cuts as he had as a genius waiting to happen twenty years ago in 1989. Whether it be the punk-rock danceability of “1,000,000” and “Letting You Go” or the catchy ‘80s disco rhythm of “Discipline,” “Echoplex,” and “Head Down,” these songs resonate with Reznor’s post-The Fragile work like “Only” and “You Know What You Are?” (from 2005’s With Teeth).
But what follows these five highly-charged cuts is a dire and unwelcome twist in the album. While the immediate cut “Lights In The Sky” is a classy piano ballad, the two tracks following it, “Corona Radiata” and “The Four Of Us Are Dying,” make up a long and tedious instrumental section on the album, which almost completely snuffs out the fire with which the album begins. Although these instrumentals are tolerable -- and even good, in the case of “The Four Of Us Are Dying” -- they don’t fit well on this album, unlike “
For a record so accessible and aggressive, The Slip, even for its short length, is a few songs too long. The deal would have been much sweeter had it ended with just the beautiful piano-ballad and hadn’t gone much further. For the masses that avoided Ghosts I–IV on purpose, the last thing they need is a sample of what they missed.