Five years is a long time by most people's standards, but when such a period passes between albums by Nine Inch Nails, the turbulent electro-noir behemoth conducted by Trent Reznor, it's par for an increasingly elaborate course. With Teeth follows a period of intense self-investigation, a psychological shelf-clearing. It's an album that startles with its clarity, with its renewed vigour. A catalogue of grievances perhaps, like all his records, but possessed with more of a will to fight back than any other Nine Inch Nails release to date. Interscope. 2005.
Trent Reznor has always been a one-trick-pony, but it's a damn good trick: sunny melodies filtered through ferocious electronics. Unfortunately, the trick's impact was often watered down by a tendency toward petulance and self-absorption. Still, almost six years after NIN's last release, The Fragile, the trick itself has lost none of its Teen-Beat-from-hell appeal. With Teeth blisters from the start with "All the Love in the World," and tracks like "The Collector" take full advantage of Dave Grohl's sledgehammer drumming. Reznor stretches occasionally, trying out different tactics, from crunchy, overtly commercial rave-ups ("The Hand That Feeds") to borderline New Wave ("Only"). But Teeth isn't about stretching. It's about doing the same trick, only better, with less clutter and more bite. By neatly distilling the sparseness of Pretty Hate Machine with Downward Sprial-style density, it ends up being the most focused record in the NIN catalog. –Matthew Cooke