ARTIST: Nine Inch Nails
TITLE: Pretty Hate Machine
YEAR RELEASED: 1989
CHART ACTION: #75 US, #67 UK
SINGLES: Down in It (#16 US Alternative), Head Like a Hole (#109 US, #28 US Alternative, #45 UK), Sin (#35 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Kinda I Want To
LINEUP: Trent Reznor
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Studio go-fer records demo on his downtime, gets signed, and releases an album that puts a shiny gloss on industrial music (but not the themes).
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For the masses, this may be the first industrial electronic record they heard – since Ministry was still a cult band and others were available on imports that cost and arm and a leg, or had an audience of the goth kids down the block from the studio.
Musically, Reznor stretched out the industrial genre away from just pure repetition and angry barking to actual song structure and angry singing. There are hooks here, which is something that didn’t happen much in that genre. A little sugar helps the bile go down. And what’s more, each song is distinctive, not just variations of the same theme. That’s not to say they’re not similar, but the sequencing is such that it doesn’t seem like the same thing over and over and over.
Lyrically – Reznor’s not happy. You can definitely tell with the breakout “Head Like a Hole” but the whole album is thematically angry and betrayed. Perfect for the goth kids down the block. One song, though, is such an angst filled dirge that I have to get rid of it.
It was somewhat unique at the time, and established Reznor as a budding star. It’s not a perfect album as some songs seem half baked or puerile in expression. He’d fix that problem soon enough.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original record company that released this was TVT records, who made their bones releasing TV theme songs. They didn’t really know how to handle Reznor.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, one bonus cut..
GRADE: B: It’s pretty decent if you can get past all the anger and rage. Yet we do need that on occasion.