Friday, 10 July 2009

Revisiting The Fragile and Nine Inch Nails

After having lived somewhat on Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead", as discussed in my previous post, I opted for giving Nine Inch Nails' double album The Fragile a spin again last evening on Spotify.

I basically discovered NIN through this particular album back in 2000. Don't get me wrong, I'd heard of the band before. I'd really enjoyed their cover version of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" that is found on The Crow Soundtrack (I actually heard this cover before I heard the original version). But I was originally discouraged by the "noise" factor when checking out a full album in a record store. In retrospect, I realise that that album must have been The Downward Spiral, which I nowadays count among NIN's masterpieces, but which I clearly was not yet ready for back in the early to mid-90s.

NIN wasn't totally lost to me in the time in between though. I did grow to like tracks like "Head Like a Hole", "Closer" and "The Perfect Drug" on the dance floors of a few goth rock clubs (and beyond). Yet never enough for me to actually pick up an album, the previous discouragement staying with me.

In 2000, however, I got to borrow the magnificent double album that is The Fragile from a friend and absolutely fell in love with it. Utterly and without regret. At the time, I spent quite a bit of time in the Netherlands, or in transit between that country and my own native Sweden, and the album travelled with me; a more or less constant companion in my headphones. In fact, since I was an active reviewer at the Dutch Progressive Rock Page in those days, and since the album (albeit more commonly being categorised as industrial rock) qualifies as one with some pretty strong elements and influences of progressive rock, I wrote a review of it for that site (found here for anyone interested).

Revisiting the album again last evening made me realise exactly how great it is. I would easily rank this among my favourite albums any day of the week and think I would be surprised to find it missing on a top 25 list of the greatest albums ever (though the internal ranking might change and vary). Dark, beautiful, musically fitting and lyrically spot on... music simply doesn't get any better than this. Not really.

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