Sound — 10
Nine Inch Nails' second independent release, The Slip, came as a surprise to the fans, completely free-of-charge (unless you felt the need to buy the limited edition CD/DVD combo with live rehearsal footage that came out in July), and without any advertising, other than a message from Trent Reznor on nin.com simply stating "Two weeks", much in the way of Ghosts I-IV, NIN's first independent release. Albeit free, The Slip doesn't lack in quality music. The 10 tracks are filled with keyboard, guitar, drums, bass, vocals, and the other weird instruments that the band has become known for using. "999, 999" is an instrumental, ambient track, that segues perfectly into the drums of "1, 000, 000". "Letting You" opens with an energetic drum beat, which is soon accompanied by guitar and bass, as well as Reznor's vocals, and is one of the more energetic tracks on the album. "Discipline" opens with a simple drum beat, which is soon joined with a catchy guitar riff and some reverberating bass, along with Trent's voice. Piano enters in the second verse, and carries on throughout the rest of the song. "Head Down" is one of the more aggressive songs, with hard-driven verses and softer choruses. "Lights in the Sky" is a quiet, almost interlude-esque track, consisting of only piano and Reznor singing for most of the song, and leads into "Corona Radiata", the longest song on the album. It is more reminiscent of his work on The Fragile or The Downward Spiral, with an ambient, 4.5 minute-long intro, at the end of which, drums fade in, and different sounds creep their way into the end of the song. "The Four of Us are Dying" opens with an effect-driven drum-beat, and is soon joined by bass, and guitar manipulated with more effects. It is the third instrumental track on the album (After "999, 999", and "Corona Radiata", and leads into the album closer, "Demon Seed", which features distorted bass, and an upbeat drum beat.
Lyrics — 9
This record features a departure from the most recent records in terms of lyrics. The Slip delves into personal matters once again, particularly in "Lights in the Sky", and "Head Down". Trent hasn't lost his ability to write lyrics people can relate to, or lyrics that force people to think, and, he most certainly hasn't lost his ability to sing. While most of the tracks are mellow, "Letting You" and "Head Down" show that he can still belt it out when needed.
Overall Impression — 9
The Slip is a great album, especially for the price (*cough*free*cough*). The songs flow really well, and aren't repetitive, other than the fact that all of the non-instrumental tracks begin with some variation of drums, then guitar, then bass. It is, in my opinion, the best album NIN has put out since The Fragile (not to say With Teeth, Year Zero, and Ghosts I-IV were bad, mind you).