It almost feels like Trent Reznor is punking everyone with today’s new NINE INCH NAILS single, “Came Back Haunted.” Back in 2009, the never-shy frontman criticized Chris Cornell’s much maligned, Timbaland-produced solo album, Scream, tweeting, “You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.” Cornell ended up rocking again with Soundgarden, and while a tasty grunge treat music-wise, last year’s comeback single “Been Away Too Long” suffered from banal lyrics where the singer lamented, well, being away for too long. It was weird to see a band that had spent so much time immersed in compositional ambiguity (“Fresh Tendrils,” “Hands All Over”) ending up penning something that AC/DC’s Brian Johnson would churn out on an off day.
Reznor following the exact same blueprint here is almost like when you shadow a friend on Foursquare in another city just to be a dick. With lines like, “I am not who I used to be” and “I said goodbye but I… I had to try/I came back haunted,” he bemoans about his own time away from his own high profile gig. It’s well known that right around the Twitter spat with Cornell, Reznor hung up the NIN banner with no definitive return in sight, spending his time working on film soundtracks and the How to Destroy Angels project with his wife.
Turns out he has been hoodwinking everyone, resurrecting Nine Inch Nails on the DL, revealing in a statement that he’s, “been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder,” and has finished a new record, Hesitation Marks, which will come out September 3 off Columbia.
Musically, “Came Back Haunted” is a mixed bag. The synth beginning is the sister to Pretty Hate Machine’s “Ringfinger,” while other parts echo “Closer” and “The Hand That Feeds.” For Reznor to Frankenstein from three different decades, and quite diverse eras of Nine Inch Nails, is an interesting tack to take. It also shows how brilliant he can be, making something sound familiar on a few different levels but inching forward at the same time. Not as industrial as some fans might like, it’s more of a straight ahead alt-rock electronic which Reznor does effortlessly.
It doesn’t push the boundaries like everything on his tortured career highpoint The Fragile did, but it also doesn’t suffer from sounding like an extension of a previous work, which is what doomed With Teeth’s follow-up, Year Zero. Ultimately, “Came Back Haunted” has certainly piqued interest in what Hesitation Marks will sound like -– especially since Reznor says bluntly is, “frankly fucking great.”
Let’s see what Chris Cornell has to say about that.
In addition to today’s new single and record announcement, NIN also unveiled a fall tour that comes to Boston’s TD Garden — with Godspeed You Black Emperor in tow — on October 11. Here’s the full tour itinerary:
Nine Inch Nails: Tension 2013 North American Tour:
September 28: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN
September 30: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
October 1: Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
October 3: Centre Bell, Montréal, QC,
October 4: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
October 5: Wolstein Center, Cleveland, OH
October 7: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
October 8: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA October 11: TD Garden, Boston, MA
October 14: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
October 15: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
October 18: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
October 19: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
October 21: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
October 22: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
October 24: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
October 30: BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL
October 31: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
November 5: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
November 8: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
November 9: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
November 11: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, TX
November 13: 1st Bank Center, Broomfield, CO
November 15: The Joint,Las Vegas, NV
November 16: The Joint, Las Vegas, NV
November 18: Rose Garden Arena, Portland, OR
November 19: Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
November 21: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC
November 22: KeyArena, Seattle, WA
November 24: Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB
November 25: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB
And hey, while we’re in the mood, NIN also posted The Definitive Singles (1989 to 2013) to Soundcloud. Yowza.