Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 09.05.12 in Reviews

Pretty Hate Machine [2010 Remaster]

Nine Inch Nails

Through the rubberized bass lines of “Down in It” or the Tesla coil loops of “Sanctified,” Nine Inch Nails’ debut album is, at its heart, synth-pop with a sneer, bookending the ’80s with steel-plated beats and ragged dance rhythms that wouldn’t sound out of place in an S&M club. (See: its smash Buzz Bin single “Head Like a Hole,” which could double as a seething political statement — “I’d rather die than give you control” — and a direct order to “bow down before the one you serve” like some poor sucker with a ball gag strapped to his mouth.)

Synth-pop with a sneer

If power dynamics and role-playing aren’t quite your bag, Pretty Hate Machine can still be savored as a well-aged introduction to industrial music, although it transcends that scene’s tired tropes with severely distorted samples (Public Enemy, Prince, Jane’s Addiction) you wouldn’t be able to spot even if we told you exactly where they are. Also of note: the producers who helped Trent Reznor sharpen his hooks like a chef’s knife, which say more about his eclectic tastes than the music itself, including John Fryer (one of This Mortal Coil’s only consistent members), dub demigod Adrian Sherwood, and Flood, who recorded Depeche Mode’s definitive album (Violator) right around the same time.