Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fragile, by Nine Inch Nails

The Fragile, by Nine Inch Nails

Supposedly Trent Reznor spent two years working on this album by himself. He's a perfectionist, and it shows in The Fragile. It's not a necessarily depressing work of pain that The Downard Spiral was since that dealt largely with his heroin addiction, among other things. The Fragile has an almost serene quality to it, despite some hard songs. It flows from track to track seamlessly, starting with "Somewhat Damaged," a song that details a relationship that's fallen apart and the aftermath of it -- feeling damaged and resentful, upset that the person said they'd always be there but weren't. The song ends with Trent Reznor screaming "How could I ever think it's funny how everything that swore it wouldn't change is different now? Just like you would always say 'we'll make it through,' then my head fell apart and where were you?" From there it moves through "The Day the Whole World Went Away" -- a sorrowful song about being left alone.

Moving through others such as "The Wretched," "We're In This Together," and "The Fragile" it goes through the anger of losing someone, missing them, remembering the times you spent with them and the feelings you felt. In "The Fragile," Reznor sings, "She shines in a world full of ugliness. She matters when everything is meaningless."
"Just Like You Imagined" -- the track following "The Fragile" -- is one of the most powerful instrumentals ever done. It leads in with a piano quietly, then the guitar bursts in and the drums hold the driving beat. The synthesizer carries a melodic distortion throughout the song while the drums and guitars hold the power. It's remarkable.

The album is split up in two discs, Left and Right. The Left disc ends with "The Great Below" and the lyrics "And I descend from grace; In arms of undertow. I will take my place in the great below. I can still feel you even so far away." The Right disc begins with "The Way Out is Through" where he sings "all I've undergone, I will keep on," giving the feeling that after all the pain and torment, the emptiness and loneliness, and the only thing he can do is keep going. When you're in that position, when you've lost the one person you love, the only thing you can do is push forward. The way out is through.

The next song is "Into the Void" with the main lyrics "tried to save myself but myself keeps slipping away." The rest of the disc goes through more feelings of getting over someone -- of knowing that you have to get over them and push forward but being unable to do so. The 2nd to last song, "The Big Come Down," ends with "there is no place I can go here is no place I can hide; it feels like it keeps coming from the inside." You can't run away from yourself, and the pain you feel is inside you and impossible to escape. Finally, the last song, "Underneath It All," the lyrics are straightforward:
all I do
I can still feel you

numb all through
I can still feel you
hear your call
underneath it all
kill my brain
yet you still remain
after all I've died
after all I've tried
you are still inside

all I do
I can still feel you

you remain
I am stained
The final track is "Ripe (with Decay)" and it's an instrumental. The album ends with the feeling that you can't get rid of the person from your life completely. You're changed and that person's mark will always be on you. You can fight it and be depressed and pissed off and everything you can imagine all at once, but there will always be a scar or stain remaining. You learn to live with it.

["Just Like You Imagined," by Nine Inch Nails, Live]

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