Shall I say 'The Fragile' or 'The Fragile Original Sound Track'?
Strange as it may sound, 'The Fragile' seems like one long song that
makes you think of images- images that you never really got around to
thinking of. Many people said that the album didn't sound like Trent and
that it was entirely different- I'd have to say that these people are
the ones who've only listened to 'Closer'. In fact, the music is so
'Trentish' that it could be spotted anywhere. A lot of the pieces have
similarities to ones from former albums. For instance, 'The Mark has
been Made' actually sounds a lot like 'Something I can never have',
which was in the 'Natural Born Killers O.S.T.' Perhaps this is one of
the reasons I think this album sounds like a soundtrack to a movie.
I remember a friend saying, "Listening to 'Closer' would get me
horny." If 'Downward Spiral' was more about tingling the spine with
sensual sounds then 'The Fragile' is more about dealing with the
essential emotions rather than mere shouts of hatred. Whether or not
Trent was more serious when he made the album (and actually, he did go
through harder times, but let's not get into personal details), it is
definitely 'heavier'. This isn't a garage band screaming at the top of
their lungs, 'I love you! I want you!' or 'I hate the world! Fuck the
world!' This is about a man who knows what he's talking about (and we're
all going to interpret it a billion different ways) and he's dealing
with questions that we all have but are too scared to ask and gently
flicking them at us. The 'Downward Spiral' was a trip down to the
bottom- 'The Fragile' starts at the bottom. There are a lot of strings
especially low strings such as the cello and bass. This gives the music
There are a lot of instrumental pieces in the album. They act as
both bridges between the separate songs- linking all the songs into one
big whole concept- but they also stand individually. When you listen to
music of other musicians sometimes you hear these instrumental pieces
and you think, "What the hell- this is probably just something he put
together in a couple hours," and then when you listen to the album you
skip the instrumentals (which can get really boring sometimes). However,
with Trent, nothing is accidental. If he put 'Complication' between
'starfuckers, inc.' and 'I'm looking Forward to Joining You, Finally,'
there was a reason. This takes us back to the bridge concept that I
mentioned earlier. What is so special about these instrumentals is that
they have a central theme that plays throughout the piece like a
haunting melody that still lingers in your head until the next song
starts. Sometimes the melody from the previous song overlaps in one's
mind with the one after it- causing an eerie and sensational concoction
of sounds in the head.
When you first listened to the 'Fragile' you could probably sense
immediately the control of feelings. In former albums, we remember Trent
yelling at us (well, maybe not us, but anyway). We can take examples
such as 'Head like a Hole' or 'Sin'.
This eerie control of emotions is what makes 'The Fragile' fragile.
You deal with it more tentatively perhaps because you can feel that a
slight poke will break the bubble and let all the pent-up desires and
pain come rushing out. It's like when you're really hurt you can't even
cry because you're too stunned to let the tears flow. Even when Trent is
whispering in a very strained voice, we can hear in the background a
screaming Trent singing the harmony but it is so small, like a person
yelling several blocks away. At times when Trent is actually screaming
at us, it's not as hard as before but rather the screams melt in with an
As a personal fan of Nine Inch Nails, it is hard to grasp any
faults of the album. However, I did note that Trent's lyrics did not
change much. He uses similar concepts of conflict between the inner self
and the outside and uses a lot of the rhymes and passages that he used
before (one example is where the skin cracks- he used a lot of 'peeling
skin' before as well).
In all, the Fragile is certainly a milestone in Trent's musical
career. But he's still not giving us answers. All he has is the gurgling
sound of 'La mer' (the ocean). And the ocean never gives answers, you
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.