Pop & Hiss

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Dissecting the debut track from Trent Reznor's How to Destroy Angels

May 5, 2010 |  5:05 pm

Well, isn't this sweet: Trent Reznor, Twitter fiend and dewy-eyed scribe of such romantic lines as "I want to ... you like an animal," has released the debut song from his new band formed with his sweetheart Mariqueen Maandig, formerly of West Indian Girl.

"A Drowning," the first song from How to Destroy Angels, named for an album from '80s industrial band Coil, is a slithery bit of shoegazer goth mixed by Alan Moulder (who worked on Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral," "The Fragile" and "Year Zero"). Maandig's vocals are disaffected, with fuzzed out drum loops and strangled guitar in the background. The magnanimous viewpoint would be that this is a nicely woozy bit of troubled atmosphere. On the negative side, it sometimes sounds strangely bloodless, perhaps too perfect for piping into high-end "edgy" nail salons.

But there's no denying Reznor's capacity with nuance and mood so we'll reserve judgment till the EP comes out; it's due sometime this summer. Reznor and Maandig's band is one in a long line of couple acts, and certainly not all are as syrupy as the Wings cuddler, "Silly Love Songs." For instance, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne started writing "Funeral" days after returning from their honeymoon. So this might all work out for happily ever-afters. There's nothing like marital bliss for brewing a batch of quietly seething digipunk.

--Margaret Wappler

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