After today’s post has been completed and published, there will only be 20 days left in this project. The thought alone is making me hyperventilate (not really), but I’m eager to share with you a hypothetical scenario in which I construct another yearlong project. In this hypothetical scenario, I already have plans for world domination (read: getting out of debt), but also to publish a blog that will be, quote, ‘hip’ and ‘relevant’ according to all major journalistic sources with airtight integrity and standards, like Hipster Runoff and Vice is Hip.
Continuing within this scenario, because of my newfound prowess and influence, I will be hired by the combined forces of Vice and Pitchfork, which will be initially be called Vork, but once they are bought out by Yahoo!, the magablog’s name will be changed to a GIF of someone shrugging after listening to an unreleased Arcade Fire album.
So, I guess… be on the lookout for that.
Right, so, the right side of Nine Inch Nail’s 1999 double release, The Fragile. Earlier this year, I wrote about the left side of this double-disc release, and I’m just now, 332 days later, realizing that I messed up. Should’ve switched the two. Whoops.
One way or another, while this side is much more brooding and dark (with the exception of “Into the Void,” a timeless, classic NIN cut), The Fragile is an important entry in Trent Reznor’s catalogue. So vital that Rezzy is calling it his “favorite NIN album currently.”
And one more thing before I proceed: here’s a full concert from their Tension 2013 tour, filmed at the Staples Center in Los Angeles:
Okay, now for the weakest part of the right side of The Fragile: embarrassing lead single “Starfuckers, Inc.”
Good Lord. Look, there’s a reason that Trent and company no longer play that track live. Almost a decade and a half after its release, the song is a humorous look at the state of electronic music in the late 90s. How it got any type of radio play at all is puzzling to me.
Thankfully, it doesn’t speak to the whole of the remainder of the album, as the right side is also where fabulous and lush tracks like opener “The Way Out is Through,” “Complication,” and “The Big Come Down” live.
I keep circling back to this point, so even for a dummy like me, it’s obvious: a project like that that looks at early material through the lens of later works (or vice versa) is the perfect way to see how a group has progressed – or not – and what they’ve done since to incorporate it – again, or not – into their current work.
On this most recent tour, Trent managed to work in a bunch of Fragile-era songs, but rework them in such a way that made them fresh and intriguing all over again, 14 years later. While it can’t recapture their boundless live energy and presence, the Tension special does a great job at least of showing you how far they’ve come. Compared to the group’s infamous Woodstock ’94 mess, it’s obvious to me that Reznor is the most important artist of this generation. No question about that one.
From the right side of The Fragile, this is “The Big Come Down” –
Standout tracks: “The Way Out is Through,” “Into the Void,” and “Underneath It All”
Weakest track: “Starfuckers, Inc.” Oof.
RIYL: Knowing that you are watching a special, once in a lifetime figure at work, doing what he does best.