Friday, May 16, 2008

Song of the Day - Nine Inch Nails: "Discipline"

This whole I-don't-need-no-stinking-record-label thing is really beginning to suit Trent Reznor real well. In the old days fans used to have to wait four to six years in between albums, but now that Mr. Reznor is free of record label contracts he can release music whenever the hell he damn pleases. Did you realize in the last four years we have been treated to four proper Nine Inch Nails albums? That's the kind of production we expect from the hip hop world (MF Doom and Talib Kweli come to mind). And now that he's figured out this whole digital distribution thing, who knows how much more prolific Reznor's output is going to get.

His most recent album, The Slip, was released last week without much advance warning and once again he allowed fans the freedom to download it completely for free (in MP3, AAC and FLAC versions, no less). In fact, unlike the last NIN album (Ghosts I-IV, released barely two months ago), there is no way pay for a digital version even if you really want to fork over some of that hard earn scratch to show your appreciation. For those that prefer to pay for their music, you'll just have to wait until The Slip is released on CD.

OK, so Reznor proves again that he has his ear to the ground and will give the people what they want, but how's the music? Actually, it's pretty damn awesome. The Slip is perhaps the most focused and straightforward Nine Inch Nails album since Broken. It's not some 70 minute concept opus, but instead a concise little package (it's just under 44 minutes long) that feature's some of Reznor's best work in years.

"Discipline" is without a doubt my favorite track on the record, and possibly the best NIN song since "The Perfect Drug". For one, it's catchy as hell. I'm talking catchy in the same way that "Closer" and "Head Like A Hole" were catchy. That is, the bass line grooves in such a way that you might catch yourself tapping your foot extra rhythmically or even, dare I say, dance to it (yes, not all NIN songs require you to sit in the bathroom with a razor blade to your wrist). On top of the sick bass line, Trent incorporates just the right amount of noise with pretty little piano lick to give the song a feeling of powerful adrenaline, but not aggression.

When he sings in the chorus "I need your discipline/Once I start I cannot help myself" I am reminded of the old Trent Reznor, the one who was anti-establishment and authority and how that guy doesn't exist anymore. He's still a rebel, but he's mature enough to admit that he needs something to keep him in line. I think in this new post-record-label era that instrument of 'discipline' is his fans. If the results keep sounding as refreshing as this song, and by extension this album, then I am all for it.

Nine Inch Nails - "Discipline"

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