Nine Inch Nails have released an album at almost every pivotal part of my life. Now, perhaps I'm reading into this a little too much (note: I definitely am), but Trent Reznor's knack for releasing new work in-sync with my life events is almost otherworldly and the announcement of NIN's new album, Hesitation Marks, this fall coincides with my move and enrollment in art school. This is a time where I'm more stressed than I have been in years, and, as if he knew I needed something new to comfort my soul, there is Reznor with another album to put on repeat and melt my stress away.
One time obviously doesn't match up so well with the statements above so let me run through the other times that Reznor has worked his magic at big moments in my life.
Before I was even a fan, NIN released The Fragile as I was self-destructing and being pulled/kicked from middle school. If I'd have known that album existed, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have felt so completely alone in the world because it manages to take all the anger, sadness, frustration, and other primordial emotions I was soaked in at the time and express them in a creative, unique musical way that I needed so badly as an outlet.
In late 2004 or early 2005, my freshman roomie grabbed a leaked copy of With_Teeth and I swear to you that was one of the only albums I listened to that winter/spring. Going to a private Baptist college as a weird punk/grunge kid was really rough that first year. There were four of us that were different and kinda gravitated to each other and shared music (industrial, metal, punk, and classic metal). Being away from home for the first extended time and in such a conservative environment wasn't much fun that first year and my grades seriously suffered as I tried not to pointlessly rebel against any and everything around us. That album came at a perfect time and several of the songs felt like they were written by or about me.
Midway through college, and at the point where I had to start looking and acting more normal for a job as Resident Assistant in the dorms, NIN hit the world with Year Zero, and once again, I was hooked. I got into the whole AR game surrounding it and had the album on repeat for weeks when it came out in its entirety. I'm sure my residents from that period could recite whole songs off the album just from the constant sound of it coming through the walls and spilling into the halls.
And then, as I was getting ready for graduation and battling some major kidney stones, Ghosts I-IV and The Slip were released within a few short months of each other. Both still get a lot of playtime in my life today, especially as focus/work soundtracks.
Even Reznor's new band, How To Destroy Angels, has impeccable timing. The first EP released as I moved back home, gave up a possible career in the hospitality industry, and faced unemployment. The second as my previous relationship fell apart and my best friend graduated from the program we were in at community college. Their full album released as I geared up to teach my first classes through the school's workforce development program and started preparing for graduation and make the choice of which city and art school I would be at in the coming fall.
And of course, just today NIN released their first single from the upcoming album, during the first week of my last summer at this school and job. I'm apartment hunting in a town 9 hours away from me, planning out class schedules, and looking at loans and costs of supplies... with a brand new NIN song in my headphones and an upcoming album to look forward to.
It's probably just luck, but I can't help but hope that this streak of amazingly well timed musical releases continues on into the foreseeable future. After all, Reznor really does have a knack of writing the perfect soundtracks for my life.