Oh. My. God. The emperor has no clothes! He is naked!
That was my first thought when I listened to "With Teeth" - discounting the obvious brilliant tracks like first single "The Hand That Feeds" and soon to come, second single "Only". Trent Reznor - once forerunner of the whole genre of alternative rock - has been misled by evil councilors and tailors that have tricked him into walking the streets with songs thin as air.
Reznor has indeed stripped his tunes to the bare bones, only sparing the raw essentials. Most songs are naked, in a true sense, making "With Teeth" reminiscent of some parts of "The Downward Spiral" and - first and foremost - "Pretty Hate Machine". And at the same time as he has glanced backwards, realising that industrial rock isn't the music of tomorrow anymore, he has actually also managed to put in elements that make the songs sound new and not dated. The funny techno beat in "All the Love in the World" is one example, the killer groove of extraordinary love song "Sunspots" another (a new "Closer", almost).
And although I feel I still haven't conquered the whole of "With Teeth" (well, "The Fragile took me a few years, and even "Pretty Hate Machine" had to have its time in my stereo) even now, I can't find a song that I dislike and I have a hard time picking out favorites. The singles are great, "Mr Self Destruct"-disharmonic and rocking anthem "You Know What You Are?" is a good rock tune, but at the same time "Beside You in Time" (with its calm climb up to a climax) and "Right Where It Belongs" make up the perfect down-tuned ending to an ever growing album. This is yet another great NIN-album, crafted by the self-centered master of self loathing, angst and love that hurts, and it actually manages to stand up to its predecessors.
This is the more straight up rock record compared to the Pink Floyd-esque sprawl of forever brilliant "The Fragile" - and I love it.
Trent Reznor has avoided the trap of sounding like yesterday's news and almost manages to sound like today and the future once again.
The emperor and his songs are naked - and they are beautiful still.