Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Underrated Classic - Nine Inch Nails "The Fragile"

After hitting massive commercial success with their debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, and reaching a wider spectrum with The Downward Spiral, in 1999, Nine Inch Nails released a double album that may be their forgotten masterpiece. While the craze of the music industry and massive tours with Marilyn Manson and David Bowie saw Trent Reznor and the rest of NIN on drugged fueled rages and self inflicting hysteria, thanks to the successful "Self Destruct" tour, the band took a bit of a break and went into hiding. Reznor retooled the members of NIN and relocated to New Orleans and based Nothing Studios out of The Big Easy. He recruited producer Alan Moulder to aid in the production and sound of the album that would become The Fragile. Incorporating industrial sounds, funk, African drums, classical music, early electronica, prog rock, goth, and new wave, The Fragile became a record of telling off the music industry and fake friends. Propelled by the singles and videos for "We're In This Together Now," and "Starfuckers, Inc.," The Fragile went on to become a platinum selling album as the industry went upside down thanks to a new internet trading device called Napster. It is a record that sends off the message that anyone can be surrounded by everyone yet still feel alone and empty, for Reznor it had to be as candid he has ever gotten as a writer. Disputing with his label, Interscope and record executives, public feuds with former friends and protege, Marilyn Manson, and recovering from a drug addiction that almost killed him, Reznor saw how short life was. The Fragile was his therapy. It was also the moment where Nine Inch Nails became a band that were a clear vision of Reznor's imagination and not the commercial, corporate rock radio machine that MTV and critics had poised them to become. If there was ever an album that heard its author(s) put there foot down and said they had enough, The Fragile would be it.