Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me.
After covering the works of The Posies and Guster I figured it was time for a tonal shift into my rather eclectic taste in music so I though, what could be more of a change than a band I have loved since the early 90’s, Nine Inch Nails. Today’s entry is a little it of a cheat as it is not a full length album but an EP that was released, but it still marks a significant change, So, lets talk about Broken.
Why This Album?
By the time Broken had released, I had already become obsessed with the machinations of Nine Inch Nails and the releases of Broken (and it’s remix followup Fixed) just solidified this love. Broken itself is a much heavier album hinting at what was to come with the release of The Downward Spiral while still maintaining lyrical and emotional highs of Pretty Hate Machine with Fixed providing some great remixes of select songs from Broken.
What I love about this EP is that it was recorded during a time when it didn’t seem like Reznor and the band would be let out of their agreement with TVT and would have been forced to remain with the smaller label, despite their tremendous success. Things worked out in the end when they ended up on Interscope Records, a move that would make NINE INCH NAILS a relative household name.
The EP itself is nothing but blind fury wrapped in the intense and beautiful sonic delights that is NIN. Every track on these releases are filled with anger, entropy and an intensity that just gets into your bones almost immediately. The transition from Pretty Hate Machine to Broken is almost staggering showing an almost spontaneous evolution that is nothing short of amazing. When I think of early Nails, this is where my mind goes to with Wish being at the forefront. That song sets off a refreshed and powerful Nine Inch Nails that has never slowed down but has only gotten better with time.
Obviously Wish is a tremendous track and the most well known on this release.
Help Me I’m in Hell feels like a precurser to The Downward Spiral all on it’s own with the very dark tonal opening that sets up the following track Happiness In Slavery. It’s mostly just jangy guitar with some atmospheric sound behind it but it is impactful as hell.
The second to last song on this one, Physical (You’re So) is one of my all time favorites. Although a cover of the Adam and the Ants song, this track really shows how Reznor and crew can elevate a song even if it is not their own.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Because it was from so early in their career this one is getting harder to find these days. There is a great Vinyl edition that is really well done but if you can find a CD copy I highly recommend it. One note, earlier pressings of the CD had a fun 99 track listing where there were blank tracks in between the last two songs with the player moving from bank track to blank track for a few moments before Suck surprises people who thought the album was over. It’s early CD tomfoolery but sooo fun. Of course, you can also listen to it via Spotify.
Next week….we find ourselves in…The Downward Spiral. Until then…
Late to the Game 9/7/2021
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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