I’ve been waiting for this album for quite a long time. Ever since I heard about Trent Reznor’s brand new post-NIN project I was alive with expectations. The introduction of his wife Mariqueen Maandig (ex-Vocalist for Dream Pop band West Indian Girl) on vocals was the part that excited me the most. The idea of that wonderful Trent Reznor sound with a new feminine touch was something I believed would be quite a delight. The end result is everything I hoped and dreamed for.
Before I give you my review and thoughts on the album, let me address the obvious complaint I’ve read about this album, that it sounds like NIN filler. I strongly disagree with that because to my ears I don’t get emotional enjoyment from filler. Whilst this album shares a similar aesthetic to NIN it is not of the same universe. I think it is unfair to judge it against the NIN discography because this band, whilst related, is still very distant from the sounds made by NIN. If I am to compare anything about this album to the NIN universe then I would most definitely nominate the atmosphere of it all. I feel like “Welcome Oblivion” is the extension of the beautiful sound NIN made on “Ghosts I-IV” but that is where it ends for me. Everything outside of that stands on its own as brand new dialogue. Realistically though, it would be incredibly unfair to criticise a band that is largely made up of people who had a hand in NIN for making music that shares a similar dynamic. Trent Reznor has the luxury of being an artist who has established his voice and identity through NIN and any sound he makes is always rooted in that unique sound. Whether it was NIN or How to Destroy Angels listed on the front cover of this album, it doesn’t matter because this album and band are a natural evolution of a sound that Trent Reznor pioneered.
As I’ve mentioned, what makes “Welcome Oblivion” so amazing is its atmosphere. I don’t think it’s clichéd of me to say that Trent’s recent diversion into movie soundtracks has most definitely influenced this album because it plays out sonically like it is attaching itself to something cinematic. It’s a mature extension of what was already a very disciplined and pioneering artist. I enjoy the lack of angst on this album and the fact that it deals in swoons and bliss. It also feels like the closest to pure pop music that Trent Reznor will ever reach. There are some seriously catchy movements on this record and they attach themselves beautifully to the darker corners of this album. I’m never bored and just when the album descends to soundscape music a beautiful dream pop song will intervene and give the album a new atmosphere. This record draws you in and when you relax into it you are taken fairly deep into yourself. Like all good records should, it engulfs you and takes you across many different emotional terrains. The enjoyment I get from this album is hard to explain because I find this music is incredibly private. It deserves to be consumed alone with a pair of headphones. When the headphones are on and this record is playing all the different sounds come alive and hit you. You feel both connected and isolated from the world all at the same time. I like feeling like that and I love the way this album creates a world of its own. It’s a powerful movement of music.
I’m sure many will tell you that this album isn’t worth your time and that it is more of the same. It’s none of my business really that people feel that way but believe me when I say that if you ever want to disconnect and reflect and understand how to re-relate to the world then this is the perfect album to listen too on a nice pair of headphones.
10 Cassette Tapes out of 10
By: Dan Newton