Review Of Broken
Nine Inch Nails Broken Island/TVT/Interscope IMCD 8004 [UK]
Total Running Time: 37 min 45 sec
1.Pinion - 1:02
2.Wish - 3:46
3.Last - 4:44
4.Help Me I Am In Hell - 1:56
5.Happiness In Slavery - 5:21
6.Gave Up - 4:08
7.Physical - 5:29
8.Suck - 5:06
_Broken_ - I'm not sure if the title refers to the equipment this new
EP from NIN was recorded on (it sounds in places as though it was
recorded at the bottom of a swamp, albeit a very loud swamp) or the
fact that it makes you think your CD player is broken when you play it
and your CD informs you that contrary to all indications on the
packaging, the CD has 99 tracks.
It might be very clever to have the two bonus tracks (which aren't
listed anywhere on the packaging) as tracks 98 and 99, but having to
skip through 91 "blank" tracks, each of which consists of 3 seconds of
silence, is annoying in the extreme, especially on a Discman where
you have to hit the forward button once for each track. They also
exaggerate the amount of music on the disc considerably - the total
time *appears* to be almost 38 minutes, but six minutes of that is
blank space and the disc's true length is just under 32 minutes.
Right, what else can I complain about? Oh yeah, it's in a Digi-pak.
Quite well designed, admittedly, with fold out panels and nice
artwork, but I'd rather have had even a slimline jewel box to this. If
this had been at full album price, rather than the "expensive single"
price of #5.99, I wouldn't have even bought it. Digi-paks are OK for
singles, but I demand better packaging for albums. As it is, even
given the good care I give my collection, it probably won't be too long
before _Broken_ is, if not actually _Broken_, then at least _Badly
OK, I've complained about the dumb gimmicky tracking and the cruddy
packaging, now how about the music?
Hmmm. I liked _Pretty Hate Machine_ without ever being too blown
away by it, and I guess I'd say the same about this one. The synths
have receded into the background and been largely replaced by
guitars, the overall sound being much heavier than the majority of
_PHM_, perhaps rather closer to recent Ministry. I don't know exactly
what I could describe this one as sounding like though - _PHM_ was
angsty pop with a "new industrial" sensibility, _Broken_ seems more
like the same sound shifted "sideways", angsty thrash-pop with a
"new industrial" sensibility perhaps? Meaning it's got lots of thrashy
guitars, angst-ridden lyrics, metallic boings and clanks, but some of
the tracks still retain something recognisable as a pop hook.
Trent Reznor still seems quite convinced the entire world exists only
to make his life miserable but he's obviously getting a little pissed off
with the whole situation, the whining having been supplemented with
a great deal of screaming, much of it apparently reflecting the view
that if the world is nasty and unpleasant, saying "Fuck" at it a lot will
make things better. It's a shame though, as while Trent's angry
scream comes over here much of the time as sadly cliched, at times
on _PHM_ he did actually seem capable of emoting rather more
convincingly and in a rather less one-dimensional manner ("Something
I Can Never Have") than is demonstrated here. It's quite possible to
demonstrate anger and resentment without screaming your head off
but this seems to have escaped Trent this time round. Oh well.
There's no standout tracks quite as obvious as "Head Like A Hole" or
"Down In It" here, but "Happiness In Slavery" is pretty good
(reminiscent of "HLAH" in having a relatively restrained verse followed
by a considerably louder chorus) and "Last" and "Gave Up" are also
worth a listen.
Here in the UK we seem to have been quite lucky as far as the bonus
track situation goes. Unlike some US copies, the two bonus tracks
(bonuses - hah! Given that there seem to be almost no copies
*without* bonus tracks calling them bonus tracks is little more than a
display of false generosity on the part of the record company) are
both on the disc itself rather than a separate bonus CD. Buyers of the
UK 12" though, will have to make do with a separate bonus 7"
containing the two tracks.
The first of the bonus tracks is "Physical", a competent but
non-amazing Adam Ant cover, the second is a new version of the
track "Suck", which was Trent's contribution to Pigface. I definitely
prefer the original version, which was much more atmospheric and
beside which this version is about as subtle as a brick to the cranium.
So. Was it worth the wait? Well, I was never exactly waiting with
baited breath in the first place - the "legend" that grew up around
_Pretty Hate Machine_ far exceeded its quality and the quality of a
release has *nothing* to do with how long it took to appear.
_Broken_ is competent, a decent listen if you can find it at an
acceptable price, and there's two or three good tracks but overall it's
not so much "brilliant" as "quite good in places."
Erland Rating: +1
Crawford Rating: Blue/Banana/Doberman
By Al Crawford
<< Previous Page
is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.