Nine Inch Nail's debut album has been in my walkman, discman and i-pod for well over a decade. It's one of my favorites and something that got me through my teens and 20s. I know every note of music on this album, so it's a bit surreal listening to the 2010 remaster. It's a bit of a trip hearing something that you are so familiar with sound different.
How does the 2010 version of PHM differ fro the 1989 version? As others have pointed out, it is louder, crisper, and just sounds fresher. When one listens to the original album, as good as it is, one can date it. From a production standpoint, it sounds like it came out in 1989. This new version sounds as though it could have been recorded yesterday--as these classic songs have been polished up a bit.
The new packaging and design, with the fold-out slip-case is awesome. If you are a NIN fan and love the original PHM, this new remaster is well worth the eight bucks. Although I'll still hold on to my original album, as it's kind of like an old friend and it's how I remember hearing these songs.
What follows is my review of "Pretty Hate Machine" that I wrote five years ago and appears in the review of the older pressing.
If you don't own any NIN's albums, this is definitely the place to start.
"The Downward Spiral" will probably forever be Trent Reznor's most popular and critically acclaimed album. And "The Fragile," in my opinion is Reznor's magnum opus. And although those are some of the best albums in modern rock, they both need time and a few plays to get into. "The Downward Spiral" is a classic, no doubt, but it's so intense, people unfamiliar with NIN may be initially turned off. And with the "The Fragile," there are a lot of instrumentals with long buildups and climaxes (not that that's a bad thing). Both of these albums need a few plays to really appreciate. "Pretty Hate Machine" is more meat-and-potatos and gets right to the point with each song. It's easy to digest these songs with just one listen.
NIN's debut album, "Pretty Hate Machine," is instantly accessible, instantly catchy. Some industrial purists may eschew NIN for being overly assesable/pop, but the hooks in these songs are undeniable. "Pretty Hate Machine" is not the kind of album where you listen to it a few times, every once and a while, or listen to a few songs now and then. "Pretty Hate Machine" is the kind of album that you get hooked on. And it's not just a few songs, the entire album is mesmerizing.
From the opening classic "Head Like a Hole" to the closing "Ringfinger" every song is meticulously crafted and delivered. Even if you know nothing at all about Trent Reznor, just by listening to any of NIN's albums, you get the sense that every song on every one of his albums is a labor of love.
This is the kind of album that any person can relate to. Trent Reznor takes universal feeling and themes of being rejected, disappointed, screwed over, dejected and depressed, and he puts it to catchy industrial beats. There is a certain healing power to the music of Nine Inch Nails. You feel a certain catharsis when you listen to Trent Reznor's music.
"Pretty Hate Machine" is a modern-day classic and a cornerstone in any college/alternative collection.