Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster (Bicycle Records, 2010)
In 1989, Trent Reznor released the first full length album under his Nine Inch Nails moniker, Pretty Hate Machine, on TVT Records. A commercial and critical success, the album cemented Reznor as a pioneer of the new American Industrial scene and an artist to watch in aggressive music.
The album is, simply put, amazing. Dark and moody, aggressive with some softer moments. But it is limited by its mixing and production. Later albums, such as the successful followup The Downward Spiral (which launched Reznor into the mainstream, mainly due to the popularity of "Closer" and "March Of The Pigs") and the tragically unsuccessful double album The Fragile, had significantly better production. It's not that the production of Pretty Hate Machine is bad, it just could have been better.
Well, now it is better. After years of bad blood between Reznor and TVT Records, Bicycle Records bought out TVT's catalogue, which included co-publishing rights to Pretty Hate Machine. Last week, Pretty Hate Machine was reissued in a remastered format that also included new cover art. In keeping with the Nine Inch Nails Halo numbering system, the reissue was given the number Halo 2R
The mixing is better all around, but two areas what really shine for me are the vocals and the bass. The vocals are much cleaner and clearer. Every bit of pain and despair Reznor recorded is blissfully intact for clear listening. And the bass is also clearer and more fun to listen to, especially on the tracks "Sanctified" and "The Only Time." The piano on "Something I Can Never Have" is also tweaked a bit, making the song just a bit darker (it's one of the darkest songs I have in my iTunes library). While the original is still amazing, the remaster, approved by Reznor, is a much better listening experience.
Another significant change is the art work. The original is pretty great (Reznor once stated that it is a picture of turbine blades distorted to resemble a ribcage), but the newer version (with a change in colors and word placement) seems more fitting to the new sound.
The track listing of the original songs is the same order, the order that Reznor intended. Which is good, as I have seen remasters that changed the order of the songs. The only change to the track listing is the inclusion of a cover of Queen's "Get Down, Make Love" (originally recorded for the promotional single release of "Sin"). It feels to me like it doesn't really fit with the rest of the album, but it was recorded in such a way that it doesn't feel too out of place.
Overall, Bicycle Music has taken an amazing album and somehow made it even more amazing. I would recommend this album to anyone who likes emotionally and sonically complex music, as well as to NIN fans that already have the original.