To understand the difference between Trent Reznor (who is effectively
Nine Inch Nails) and his "peers," you need only look at the album title
for this behemoth two-CD set (which clocks in at over 102 minutes in
total). How many rock stars of today would comprehend the irony of
naming this savage sonic assault The Fragile? Reznor not only gets the
juxtaposition between the two, he recognizes that often times the layers
separating destruction and beauty are not as thick as people would like
Take, for example, the Carpenters-meets-Revolting Cocks "We're in This
Together," in which Reznor sings, "The farther I fall I'm beside you/As
lost as I get I will find you/The deeper the wound I'm inside you/For
ever and ever I am a part of." Lyrically, The Fragile revisits much of
the same ideas of betrayal and darkness as The Downward Spiral (with
words such as decay, flesh, and numb appearing often), though there is
one passage in particular that is likely to arouse curiosity.
In "Where is Everybody?" Reznor shouts, "God damn I am so tired of
pretending/Of wishing I was ending/When all I'm really doing is trying
to hide/And keep it inside/And fill it with lies/Open my eyes?/Maybe I
wish I could try." Autobiographical? Perhaps, though only Reznor can
While there isn't much difference between the two discs from a lyrical
context, they are broken down a bit more musically. With disc one (the
"left" one) staying to the more tried and true, bombastic NIN overload,
laden with heavy guitars and pulsating drum machines. The "right" disc
(labeled as such because of the way the packaging unfolds) is a little
more beat-heavy (this is very much a relative term, compared not to
electronic music, but previous NIN stuff).
It's hard to pick highlights, as The Fragile is very much a record meant
to be listened to in one sitting. Although, the aforementioned "We're in
This Together," the relatively subdued "The Great Below," on which
Reznor's vocals sound very much as they did on "Hurt," and "Underneath
it All" stand out.
Like seemingly all recent musical visionaries, Reznor has had to deal
with being compared to his many disciples (Marilyn Manson and Filter
among them). However, as The Fragile proves, there is no comparison.
While they, and their peers, strive for fame and fleeting commercial
success, Reznor seems to be looking within himself. And while the
results aren't always pretty, they are always honest.
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.