Review Revue: Nine Inch Nails – Broken


Today’s installment of Review Revue is devoted to 1992’s Broken - Trent Reznor’s first Nine Inch Nails release after Pretty Hate Machine, which listeners had been anticipating for three years. When eagle-eyed fellow intern Justin brought this multi-layered beauty to my attention, I immediately looked for Pretty Hate Machine itself to see what kind of arguments were bounced back and forth on its cover. I wasn’t looking hard enough, though: turns out we only have it on vinyl, not CD (it was 1989, after all). I haven’t seen it yet, but odds are good that it will be turning up one of these Thursdays.

As much as I consider myself a NIN fan (if not a rabid one), and as much as Pretty Hate Machine was probably one of the albums that made me who I am today, I have to admit here that I don’t think I’ve ever even heard Broken. I have no idea why: I’m sure I was still into their music when it came out, despite the three-year wait; I was probably rocking out to Pretty Hate Machine with my dorky, semi-punk high school friends. Maybe I was too cheap to buy an EP? Maybe someone really cool that I knew agreed with half the reviewers here that this wasn’t worth a listen? Who knows. Given the variety of responses it inspired at KCMU, however – from gushing accolades in very, very poor Spanish to accusations of being a hoax, or worse, frat listening material – it’s gotta be worth a spin. I will remedy the situation soon, I promise.

“Me gusta muchos los NIN! MMMMMMM!

“P.S. Too bad 2’s a yellow – it ROCKS! 2-6ers – play it!” [A yellow sticker means a track is not suitable for play during normal hours, but all right to play during the FCC’s “safe harbor,” when small ears are less likely to be listening. I’m assuming “2-6ers” means DJs on between 2 and 6 a.m., who could rock out with the indecent material at will.]

“Don’t believe the hype.”

“This blows so hard. Even more lifeless than Ministry. Doesn’t even deserve rotation. It’s a hoax.”

“Better a hoax than a dolt.”

“For those dissatisfied with the recent Ministry release, this rocks. As a whole, definitely more rock-oriented than previous efforts (#5 is the most ‘industrial’ sounding here) and LOUDER. H/M [recommended for heavy or medium rotation]”

“You know, I think it would take a HELL of a single to be in M. This ain’t even close. Same old ‘poor victim me, women treat me like dirt’ spew. Destined for Greek Row in a major way. L/S [I’m assuming the L here means “light rotation”; not sure about S.]”

Ah yes, when scrambling for rhetorical ammunition, suggesting a CD will be listened to by members of fraternities is always a sure bet. Touché!

After these initial volleys, there were still some who felt the merits of this album needed further debate. And yet the cover was almost covered in stickers! (Oh, those pesky CDs with their small covers.) Fortunately, Mr. Reznor must have foreseen the divisiveness this little EP would cause, and he provided three flaps worth of space on which opinionated DJs could vent their thoughts, feelings and spleens. So if we open this baby up, we find:


“Oh heck, I like it.”

“Andy’s right about the lyrics. Remember ‘Head like a hole / Black as your soul / I’d rather die / Than give you control’? There’s a reason Depeche Mode fans enjoy this band. As The Knack put it, ‘The little girls understand.’ They’re right – I do.”

“I agree with SC but I also agree with Kathy. This rocks, though not as colorful as P.H.M. I have to admit that I dig it anyway – it’s still rubber wall bouncing music [????].”

Bringing us to our final, summing-up comment, which pretty much ends the debate for everyone:

“Indie snobs relax . . . this is nice music to dance to.”

Game, set and match to T. Reznor and co. Take that, indie snobs!

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  1. Posted October 11, 2007 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I did not give that dude permission to use my name.

  2. Audrey
    Posted October 11, 2007 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    This is great. “Blows”… do people even say that anymore? I guess they do, but there was a time when I couldn’t even visit my grandma in the resthome without hearing how everything “blows”. (Love yuh grandma.)

  3. Posted October 15, 2007 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This EP is really good, and you can sort of tell all the songs were made at around the same places and time, with the same mindset. For those who thought it was too pointless, heavy and immaturely written, i think would’ve had a farely enjoyable suprise or two from Trent’s next effort in the studio

  4. wes
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    i love your grandma too… OH FACE!

  5. levilarrington
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure the doorknobs that didn’t like it were:
    a) Paul Westerberg fans
    b) Just graduated Phi Delta from U.W.
    c) Are now naturalpaths

  6. Josh
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Wow, it’s amazing how much that looks like discs from when I was at my college radio station… stickers all over the place with dueling comments.

  7. Posted October 19, 2007 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can call yourself a “rabid” fan without having heard every EP/full length by a band. Just saying. Not trying to come off as elitist.

    Cool post though. It’s neat to see the DJ comments.

  8. Levi
    Posted October 20, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    That’s what I meant by “If not a rabid one.” Sorry if that was confusing; “if not” phrases can be tricky sometimes. Thanks for reading!

  9. Darrell
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Music is music…either you like it or you don’t. If you don’t, why would you bother to waste your time posting negative comments…unless you’re a douchebag.

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