Turns out 2016 wasn’t a total bust, after all. Last week, Trent Reznor dropped a brand new Nine Inch Nails EP, just in time for Christmas. And with five classic industrial bangers, Not The Actual Events was just the kind of moody holiday gift we all desperately needed.
The follow-up to 2013’s Hesitation Marks, NIN’s new EP is an angst-filled and distortion-driven take on popular culture.
“Something we’ve always felt strong about, is that the role of what we call ‘rock,’ has been one that should feel untethered and filled with expression,” said Reznor, during an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1. “It should be uncompromising, and at times challenging. But a lot of what’s blessed as the cool thing feels pretty generic and also feels, a lot of it, like a desperate plea for commercial airplay and success. That combined with just our own worldview and a kind of daydream I was having led to, ‘Let’s make a record that feels challenging, and exciting to us.’ […] I wanted the music to sound kind of ugly and to sound unfriendly and to not suck you in with a sexy hook.”
The result is an aggressive mix of no wave-inspired riffs, pounding synths and Reznor’s signature croon—a juxtaposition that makes the tracks undeniably catchy, in their own gritty way. A nod to the early goth rock of bands like Bauhaus, along with Reznor’s vocals on tracks like “She’s Gone Away,” give the record a heavy dose of doom and gloom that embody the current cultural climate. But the ’80s synths of “Dear World,” and momentum of tracks like “Branches/Bones,” offer up their own sense of hidden comfort. Not The Actual Events is NIN’s answer to the anxiety we felt all year.
Listen to Not The Actual Events, below.