When Nine Inch Nails released The Downward Spiral in 1994, Trent Reznor inherited the dark rock crown that fell off the head of Kurt Cobain. Five years later, this industrialist found himself no longer considered fashionable; an artist who indulged his demons via The Fragile when pandering became the new game's name. Slight even by remix-album standards, Things Falling Apart won't reverse Reznor's bottomward whorl. NIN members and friends deconstruct six Fragile cuts, removing hooks, lyrics and beauty while failing to add anything fresh or even danceable. Avant-dub master Adrian Sherwood exaggerates noise and repetition in one of three dull versions of "Starfuckers Inc." "The Great Collapse," a droning near-instrumental Fragile outtake, also screams "B side." The one exception is "Metal": Combining whispers, acoustic guitar, synthetic strings and mechanical buzz, this understated rendition of Gary Numan's synth-pop oldie proves that Reznor can still create chilling, elegant malevolence with a simple memorable tune. Everything else here is a distraction.
From The Archives Issue 855: December 7, 2000