Hesitation Marks Image
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77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 143 Ratings

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  • Summary: The eighth full-length release for the Trent Reznor-led band is its first in five years was produced with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder.
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Top Track

Came Back Haunted
Haunted The throat is deep and the mouth is wide Saw some things on the other side Made me promise to never tell But you know me I can't help... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Kerrang!
    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 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Classic Rock Magazine
    Oct 23, 2013
    70
    The techno-noir sonic palette here is as eclectic as ever. [Oct 2013, p.90]
  7. Uncut
    Aug 28, 2013
    50
    Black gothic grandeur, but with a beige, biscuit-coloured centre. [Oct 2013, p.72]

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. Sep 3, 2013
    10
    Given the singles that had come I made sure to steer clear of any other leaks to keep the album a surprise. Boy was it a pleasant surprise! soGiven the singles that had come I made sure to steer clear of any other leaks to keep the album a surprise. Boy was it a pleasant surprise! so many soundscapes and so many different moods and atmospheres captured in different and exciting ways. with that signature Trent Reznor sound to the music. I was so thoroughly impressed, I love this album even after my third listen beginning to end. Trent still has it's bite and this album stands tall in the Nine Inch Nails catalog. Expand
  2. Sep 3, 2013
    10
    Trent Reznor hasn't so openly embraced pop melodies and dance-able structures like this since 1989's Pretty Hate Machine. Hot off the heelsTrent Reznor hasn't so openly embraced pop melodies and dance-able structures like this since 1989's Pretty Hate Machine. Hot off the heels of an Academy Award win and other score nominations, this is a record fusing dance, restrained yet sweeping vocals, and fine musicianship of Lindsay Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Alessandro Cortini (modwheelmood), Peter Paladins, and Adrian Belew (King Crimson).

    It's every genre but never quite any one genre per song.
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  3. Sep 3, 2013
    9
    one word: Awesome. come expecting to hear a new album not a new NIN old style album, experimenting and using rock, electronic and new popone word: Awesome. come expecting to hear a new album not a new NIN old style album, experimenting and using rock, electronic and new pop tunes, melting them with industrial sounds makes this album something of mix between the fragile and pretty hate machine, with the ghost of with teeth and tds in between, great album as a whole, good NIN music. Various methods of scape! My favorite song of the album with copy of a came back haunted and I would for you, all time low and hehe, everything. Expand
  4. Oct 26, 2013
    8
    Unlike the minimalist The Slip which was a spotty album at best, Hesitation Marks brings Nine Inch Nails back into the spot light effectivelyUnlike the minimalist The Slip which was a spotty album at best, Hesitation Marks brings Nine Inch Nails back into the spot light effectively invoking their older style while also breaking some new ground.

    The album has a lot more emphasis on almost pop-like electronic beats (perhaps influenced by his work with How to Destroy Angels) but the darker undertones are still present throughout most of the tracks and each one, regardless of personal opinion, is executed with the kind of masterful technique we've come to expect from Trent Reznor. From The Eater of Dreams to Black Noise the album blends together so nicely it's almost hard to not listen to it in its entirety much like The Downward Spiral or The Fragile.

    Highlights Include:

    2. Copy of A A brilliant opening track that over the coarse of its running time effectively builds more and more momentum until it transitions you into Came Back Haunted. Once it gets you hooked you'll find yourself listening to it again and again. It's no surprise that Copy of A is their opening song on their current Tension 2013 tour (and blends into the hard-hitting 1,000,000 so well).

    3. Came Back Haunted This single really sets the stage for what Hesitation Marks is all about. Mixing that newer electronic-pop sound with the staple Nine Inch Nails undertones works well and ends up delivering a single very much in the same vein as With Teeth's Hand That Feeds, Year Zero's Survivalism, or The Slip's Discipline.

    5. All Time Low This track is probably the closest we're going to get to another Closer. While the song isn't specifically about sex the beat and style effectively captures that almost 1970s funk vibe that just screams "it's time to get down and make love".

    8. Satellite To me, there's something about this song that harks back to Year Zero. Whether or not the track is supposed to sound like it's riffing off of the whole NSA scandal it certainly feels like a nod to NIN's only real foray into politically-inspired music.

    9. Various Methods of Escape This song is easily becoming my most favorite of the entire album. On the surface it might not seem like it, but Various Methods of Escape is right up there next to Hurt, And All That Could've Been, and Something I Can Never Have in terms of being an emotionally intense and moving track that shares a deeply personal connection to Trent Reznor.
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  5. Sep 3, 2013
    7
    "Sonic train wreck" is how I like to describe The Downward Spiral. And while Hesitation Marks is definitely "sonic," I felt I was often"Sonic train wreck" is how I like to describe The Downward Spiral. And while Hesitation Marks is definitely "sonic," I felt I was often waiting in vain for the trademark "wall of sound" to hit my headphones like it often felt it should... and they simply do not come. Most songs pretty much stay "safe" from beginning to end, and there are none of those blissfully angst ridden sucker punches that blew your mind as a college freshman. I'm okay with a happier, fitter, more productive Trent Rezner. But I'm also wishing this album could get just a bit dirtier once in a while. All in all, it's a return to form and offers the intricate sonic layering you come to expect on the best of NIN. Good album. But still.... too safe. Expand
  6. Nov 7, 2013
    7
    For the most part, I think this album lives up to the hype pretty well. The one thing I will say is that going in I was aware that this albumFor the most part, I think this album lives up to the hype pretty well. The one thing I will say is that going in I was aware that this album was slightly divisive among NIN's fanbase, and it's pretty easy to understand why. NIN's never been a 100% “rock band” due to their influential incorporation of electronics, but this is the first time (not counting Ghosts I-V) where I'd say the guitars are pushed to the background in favor of synths & drum machines. Sure there's some great guitar work here & there, like the awesome riff in the bridge of “Came Back Haunted” or the dissonant leads in “All Time Low”, but most of these tracks are driven by layers upon layers of electronic melodies & eclectic sounds. There's also significantly less of that visceral angst & anger that gave previous albums a certain rough chaotic edge; it's especially notable compared to previous album The Slip, which was characterized mostly by raw, unpolished & free-flowing rock instrumentation. Hesitation Marks on the other hand is an album that's controlled, layered & calculated to the last decimal point. Sure that means it doesn't have the same energy as the earlier work, but that also makes it more appealing from a compositional standpoint. Most songs here have a pretty similar musical formula, but for me it's at least engaging enough from track to track to be justified. A perfect example of this is “Came Back Haunted”, with its mix of intricate electronic beats, pulsating bassy synths, and a consistent mid-tempo groove that carries the song along nicely & keeps it interesting. It also helps that there are infectious melodies stacked on infectious melodies. There are also a couple notable departures from this “sound”, like “Everything” & the R&B-influenced “Satellite”.

    By far the most polarizing song here is “Everything”, a driving alt-rocker with triumphant singalong melodies & a generally optimistic message about Reznor celebrating the fact that he's overcome all the crap & problems life's thrown at him over the years. It's a refreshing move for a guy that could've very easy phoned in angst on this whole album just to keep the overly nostalgic perpetual Gen-X-ers in his fanbase happy. That actually seems to be a recurring theme on Hesitation Marks lyrically: self-analysis & introspection. On tracks like “All Time Low”, “Find My Way” & “Came Back Haunted” he details in cryptic but intelligible terms his struggles with drugs, anger & depression throughout the last couple decades and how grateful he is that he came out of it in one piece. Even when it's not quite as bluntly positive as “Everything”, there's a subtle victorious & even slightly uplifting running theme on these topics that's expressed effectively but doesn't feel preachy in the slightest. Also, for those looking for the more political themes of albums like Year Zero or to a lesser extent With Teeth, you can't go wrong with “Copy of a” or “Disappointed”, which is about conceding to political nihilism & pessimism in terms of governmental improvement.

    Honestly, if I went just by what I said here, I'd be tempted to call this possibly NIN's best album to date. But to me, the thing that holds it back from flawlessness is how front-loaded it is. It drops in quality for me after “Satellite” to what I feel are, despite a couple exceptions like “I Would for You” and the very classic-sounding “In Two” (as well as “While I'm Still Here” to some extent), a handful of meandering afterthoughts that don't have nearly the same impact as the first half. I think Trent would've been better off going the route of The Slip by making a solid collection of 10 tracks that gets the job done effectively without bloating in length to over an hour. That being said, this is still a very rewarding comeback album. Any fan of previous NIN stuff should definitely give this a listen, since it's a very interesting progression in the discography.

    Top 5 tracks: Find My Way, Came Back Haunted, Everything, Satellite, Copy of a
    Score: 79/100
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  7. Jan 22, 2014
    3
    "Closer" was the only thing i ever heard from them. And it was a blast. However, this is their first album i hear, and it's not. It has an"Closer" was the only thing i ever heard from them. And it was a blast. However, this is their first album i hear, and it's not. It has an 'okay' dose of good tracks with rhythmic music, but not as good or powerful as i expected. But i'm still checking out their earlier work, especially in the 90s. Expand

See all 27 User Reviews