Hesitation Marks - Nine Inch Nails
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Oct 18, 2013
    100
    It was a given that Hesitation Marks would provide Nine Inch Nails with a future. But what's so impressive here is that it's given then a future every bit as promising as their illustrious past. [31 Aug 2013, p.52]
  2. Sep 11, 2013
    90
    There’s a master at work, no doubt about it, but he’s already living in the future writing complex symphonies, letting the rest of us know that everything’s going to be ok.
  3. Sep 3, 2013
    90
    Hesitation Marks makes it quite clear that Trent Reznor is no longer an angry young man but rather a restless, inventive artist who is at peace with himself, and the result is a record that provides real, lasting nourishment.
  4. Aug 30, 2013
    90
    This is the most important artistic statement from NIN leader Trent Reznor since the late '90s.
  5. Sep 3, 2013
    84
    Sure, the societal spying and corruption Reznor forecast in The Slip has played out, but Hesitation Marks is a triumphal I-told-you-so, still whispering for rebellion.
  6. Sep 3, 2013
    83
    It’s obvious on the rest of the album that the fear of living isn’t holding Reznor back anymore. This outlook has given a huge boost to NIN’s creativity, and helped the group re-emerge as a relevant, vital, and still weird band.
  7. 83
    Both Hesitation Marks' lead single, "Came Back Haunted," and the propulsive, New Order-nodding "Everything" rank among Reznor's finest. His one vice is an obsessive attention to detail, which has served him well in the past but here suffocates the more delicate melodies of "In Two" and "All Time Low."
  8. Jan 27, 2014
    80
    Five years away hasn't damaged their ability to wow and Hesitation Marks puts Trent Reznor's soundtrack albums into context; here, he sounds at his very best and right where he belongs. [Oct 2013, p.108]
  9. Sep 13, 2013
    80
    As a whole, Hesitation Marks is an engaging and embracing listen, and it can certainly be said that, almost 25 years into a recording career, Reznor is still surprising listeners.
  10. Sep 10, 2013
    80
    While not his best album, Hesitation Marks shows that he has no intention to fall back on old formulas.
  11. Sep 6, 2013
    80
    Family life and a well-earned break have given this one-time Gothfather new tricks that pure despair could never provide.
  12. Sep 5, 2013
    80
    Tense, electronic, impeccably crafted and, yes, a little bit too long (classic 90s alt-rock), it’s a satisfying twist on the band’s legacy that doesn’t abandon its signature sound.
  13. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    There is nothing hesitant about this collection of songs which manage to be fraught with heated emotions while simultaneously composed of chilly, fidgety grooves.
  14. 80
    Hesitation Marks follows the musical lineage that began with The Fragile, but it surpasses recent NIN albums thanks to a deeply personal thematic core and a willingness to push the songwriting into territory that is often dancier and poppier than listeners have come to expect from the band.
  15. This is the sound of a cleaner, smoother Nine Inch Nails, one that delights in complexities of rhythm more than caustic blasts of rage.
  16. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    Reznor's first NIN album in five years, it is one of his best, combining the textural exploration on the 1999 double CD The Fragile, and the tighter fury of his 1994 master blast, The Downward Spiral.
  17. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    An album of bona fide radio hits in an ideal world, a fine example of mainstream rock at its most tasteful, music that’s going to be popular and sell a lot but that’s not afraid to subtly defy expectations of what its makers are.
  18. Aug 30, 2013
    80
    It's the danger that comes from walking that fine line [the nexus of sonic experimentation and pop hooks] that makes the album such a welcome return.
  19. Aug 29, 2013
    80
    Any fans missing the brutal force of Head Like a Hole are pointed towards Copy of A and Came Back Haunted, two of the strongest tunes of his career.
  20. Aug 29, 2013
    80
    The most complete archiving of everywhere Nine Inch Nails has been, but more than that a jaw-dropping preview of everywhere it can go.
  21. 80
    Sure, it’s chorus-driven and a touch too slick, lacking the density and the ambition and the sheer bloody nihilism of NIN’s 90’s heyday, but Reznor’s not that guy anymore--that guy died with the heroin overdose. But there are more than enough moments here to suggest a maker not--whatever the protestations of one of its tracks--yet at peace.
  22. Aug 28, 2013
    80
    Hesitation Marks, the new album from Nine Inch Nails, is both business as usual and remarkably prescient.
  23. Sep 3, 2013
    79
    No other Nine Inch Nails record has been so mindful of dance and electronic trends from outside its own bubble, or the resurgence of many of these sounds recently. It’s a nice surprise from a radio-rock band returning to the majors without a guilty conscience for wanting to sell his art for $10.
  24. 75
    Hesitation Marks proves greatness remains within Trent Reznor’s grasp.
  25. Sep 9, 2013
    72
    The record lacks the depth found in Nine Inch Nail’s previous records and the engrossing brilliance of their more experimental leanings. All that aside, Hesitation Marks stands as incredibly solid, perhaps more so than any record put out by the band in over a decade.
  26. 70
    The techno-noir sonic palette here is as eclectic as ever. [Oct 2013, p.90]
  27. Sep 17, 2013
    70
    It’s an earnest and worthy effort to prove that this band can matter without the PMRC stickering its album cover.
  28. 70
    Hesitation Marks is a solid, if typical sampling of NIN's sound presented through traditional means.
  29. Sep 3, 2013
    70
    For every circuit-overloading workout like “Copy of A” and “Disappointed”, there are a number of tracks where Reznor reverts to the teeth-gnashing angst of old without the pig-marching blitzkriegs to back it up, applying undue pressure on the the songs’ brittle structures.
  30. Sep 3, 2013
    70
    In almost every way, this is the least outré effort NIN has proffered since Pretty Hate Machine. It's focused but inquisitive, as opposed to declarative.
  31. Aug 29, 2013
    70
    It's a roiling, often tense, but just a little more calm and contemplative NIN, seemingly content to emerge and exist rather than to sweep all before it or punctuate a point.
  32. 63
    Lyrically and vocally, he is hardly nuanced. His humorless, monochromatic tone tempers Hesitation Marks with many shades of dry bummer, the well-worn path winding through a field of flowers.
  33. Oct 18, 2013
    60
    It boasts riveting tempos, gripping atmospheres, imaginative chopped 'n' screwed vocal tracks and a vague sense of currency via a bass drop or two. But it also feels incredibly rote and through-the-motions. [No. 103, p.58]
  34. Sep 19, 2013
    60
    All intriguing and unique, but as the concluding third settles into shapeless moodiness, Hesitation Marks could've done with some pruning. [Oct 2013, p.87]
  35. Sep 16, 2013
    60
    On Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails hints at new directions, but hesitates to take a leap.
  36. 60
    The musician is famously exacting when it comes to sound and, predictably, the album is impeccably produced. What's shocking, though, is that at moments it sounds--whisper it--delicate.
  37. 60
    A nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live here.
  38. Sep 3, 2013
    50
    Too much of Hesitation Marks sounds tentative.
  39. 50
    By playing both to nostalgic sensibilities and trying to literally occupy the same territory he once did, Hesitation Marks is only welcome in that it puts Nine Inch Nails on tour. But, for the album itself, the good ideas seem to have been wasted on trying to revive something that killed itself years ago.
  40. Aug 28, 2013
    50
    Black gothic grandeur, but with a beige, biscuit-coloured centre. [Oct 2013, p.72]
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 111 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 28
  2. Negative: 2 out of 28
  1. Sep 3, 2013
    6
    Is this a bad album? No.
    Is this a good album? Sure.
    Is it a great album? No.
    Is it a Nine Inch Nails album? No!
    Gone are the type of
    songs from albums such as Pretty Hate Machine or Downward Spiral or The Fragile or With Teeth that had hard hitting personality riding passenger to those awesome Trent Reznor yells! So what, he's "no longer angry"! If you're not a band in the traditional sense, and NIN never was, then you don't have to call this a new "Nine Inch Nails" album. Nothing wrong with calling this the new "Trent Reznor" album. That's what it is to me. Not the Nine Inch Nails that changed the medium. Full Review »
  2. Sep 27, 2013
    9
    Having listened to this album pretty much non stop from release date, I'm still not tired of it. This is Reznor's best album since 1999's The Fragile. Boasting a more electronic sound than his last few albums, at times almost danceable, with undeniable nods to Prince at times, but still with great dark undertones. Highlights include In Two, All Time Low and Find My Way. Best album released in a year of great albums. Full Review »
  3. Sep 20, 2013
    5
    Hesitation Marks isn't industrial, and it's not really comparable in quality to earlier NIN albums. It lacks the harsh edge that made everything between Pretty Hate Machine and With Teeth so great. Most importantly I want you to know that it isn't another The Fragile like I've seen some people comment online. That is delusional.

    Overall Hesitation Marks is a bit too repetitive and feels generic given the unique sounds found on earlier NIN albums. What I loved about Trent's earlier work was his ability to evoke visceral emotions. Hesitation Marks is catchy but I don't actually feel anything listening to it. One thing that ticks me off is that the darkest and best track on the album is that freekin outro and it only lasts a minute and a half. It's a complete tease. It's like the album finally start to feel like it's getting somewhere awesome and then it just ends.

    Don't bother with the extended version. 2x the cost for 3 weak remixes wasn't worth it. The album art was nice though.

    It's better than Ghosts I-IV, but a weaker installment in the NIN discography.
    Full Review »