Tuesday, May 10, 2005

With Teeth Impressions - Music

nin - the hand that feedsThe thing I'll say right off the bat is that my comments are generally going to be about the music. I'm not a big lyric guy, and the fact that Trent makes it difficult to acquire the lyrics for With Teeth doesn't help matters. This is of course, too bad, because if there's one person whose lyrics I like reading while listening, it's Trent's.

In general, the thing that comes to mind when listening to With Teeth is that it's "safe". There isn't much here we haven't heard before. It has songs that are loud, songs that are quiet, songs that are noisy, songs that are dance-y, songs that are industrial, songs where Trent whispers, and songs where he screams. Yep, and in what's par for the nin course, sometimes Trent puts all of these ingredients in one song. So if you're looking for the musical breakthrough that was experienced on Broken or The Downward Spiral, you won't find it.

This isn't to say that With Teeth isn't a good record - it's mighty decent. There's plenty of cool sounds and textures that blast and swirl through the mix, or perhaps creep up in ways one doesn't expect (especially in the surround presentation). Although it's no surprise that there's plenty of dynamic range (loud and quiet bits), it seems even cooler this time around since so many modern artists don't recognize its importance. There are a few songs where Trent doesn't seem to be singing with the emotion he once had, but they're fewer than one might expect considering the length of his career.

The disc moves along at a fast clip since no song is longer than the 5 minute range, most are in the three minute range, and the entire record clocks in at 55 minutes (his shortest since Broken). We're used to having his albums begin with a bombast of noise, but instead, With Teeth opens quietly with "All the Love In the World" (complete with a generous helping of piano). It races along with the faster and noisier "You Know What You Are?" (in which Trent yells "fucking" better than anybody) and "The Collector", before settling into a riff-y groove with the first single, "The Hand That Feeds".

Next, we're introduced to slick (yet somehow sludgy) guitar tones in "Love Is Not Enough" before settling on one of the most pleasant songs on the disc - "Every Day Is Exactly the Same". "With Teeth" is probably the most unusual song he's recorded in a while due to its grinding guitar, bizarrely uttered chorus, and quiet middle section. Be forewarned, however, since the song will crash back in, scaring the beejeezus out of anybody within listening distance.

Pretty Hate Machine fans will undoubtedly be happy with the catchy dance stylings of "Only", which reminds one of "Down In It", straight down to the lyrics about a "tiny little dot" catching his eye. Big surprises follow as Trent's hook in "Getting Smaller" reminds one of Nirvana, with Dave Grohl's "Stay Away" drumming (obviously) lending a big helping hand in the conjuring of this grunge illusion. Then the record switches back to a sound that reminds one of his later works, as Trent works towards the offbeat "Beside You In Time" (dig the riffs set on infinite delay) and traditional ending of "Right Where It Belongs".

So With Teeth gets a "good job" rating from me. It'll please the disciples, but is unlikely to bring anyone new into his fan base.


Anonymous hastang said...

you've got good taste in music :)..

1:09 AM  
Blogger Hollow Man said...

Thanks for the positive comments - I appreciate it.

9:48 AM  

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