The Slip

Nine Inch Nails

Null, 2008

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


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. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

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 “A Warm Place” (The Downward Spiral) or “La Mer” (The Fragile) or even the short ones on Broken that were great build-ups to the subsequent numbers.  The disc feels so tepid towards the end that even the enthusiasm of the concluding number “Demon Seed” does nothing to bring it back to the vigor it started off with.

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.

Rating: B

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© 2008 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Null, and is used for informational purposes only.