Trent Reznor spent more than two decades crafting a specific style in Nine Inch Nails, and that informed his decision to mostly retire that band in 2009. But it takes time to develop a new sound, and the six-song EP from How To Destroy Angels, his new project with wife (and former West Indian Girl singer) Mariqueen Maandig and producer/NIN collaborator Atticus Ross, finds him still shaking the Nine Inch Nails sound.
He said as much on his Tumblr: “I would expect the next release to sound a bit more focused as we discover more about our combined chemistry.” As it is, How To Destroy Angels resembles a subdued Nine Inch Nails with female vocals. Maandig’s vocal cadence in “Fur-Lined” mimics Year Zero’s “The Beginning Of The End,” and the lyrics to the closing track, “A Drowning,” couldn’t be more Reznorian: “I’m drowning here / please, anyone / I don’t think I can save myself.” The whirling background noises, staticky bursts, choppy rhythms, and overall atmosphere wouldn’t make these songs out of place on an NIN B-sides compilation. “We were going to wait until we had a large batch of songs… but we liked this first collection and decided to release them,” Reznor wrote in that Tumblr post. Maybe they should have waited a little longer.