the gang tackles the pretty little hate machine …
When Trent Reznor does something musically, the world pays attention. That’s why we dedicated this week’s Singles Party to Uncle Trent’s brand new single, “Came Back Haunted.”
Nick Porcaro: Nine Inch Nails returns with a single that’s big on sweeping, sexy electronic sounds but ultimately lacking in substance. Trent Reznor was never known for melodic prowess, and here his melodies are unfortunately uninspired. It’s also kind of tough to take trite lyrics like “Now I’ve got something you have to see / they put something inside of me” seriously when paired with Reznor’s awkward vocal histrionics. The music undoubtedly grooves, but all the nifty overdubs and synthesizer churning can’t disguise the limp songwriting at its core. It’s as if NIN put this track out just to prove they could. Verdict: One and done.
Jason Kundrath: There are two things to consider when evaluating the quality of this track. 1. This is Trent Reznor’s reintroduction of the Nine Inch Nails moniker after several years of dormancy. 2. Reznor himself has gone on record to say how “fucking great” the new material sounds. So obviously, our expectations should be reasonably high. And on the one hand “Came Back Haunted” is a return to form of sorts, featuring many of the classic NIN touchstones: the vintage electronics, the vaguely evil (yet vaguely sexy) vibe, and the dissonant coda. And although it’s significantly less throat-shredding than the Reznor of old, his vocal is still unmistakable, alternately breathless and sneering. So yes, this is a certified Nine Inch Nails song. And I think it’s worth a listen. But not a place on the playlist. Truly, this song could have come out at any point over the last ten years. But Given Reznor’s unabashed hype, I was expecting a bit more than a by-the-numbers retread. I’ll still be interested to hear the rest of the record, but color me skeptical at the moment. Verdict: One and done.
Lauren Stern: Nine Inch Nails has always been one of those bands that I listen to only for the singles. I know that is totally lame, and believe me I’ve been trying to change that, but in my defense there’s just certain music that’s only appropriate in the background of a good workout or a car ride on a sunny day. That being said, I don’t know how I feel about “Came Back Haunted.” It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t give me the same excited feeling as some of it’s predecessors. So I guess, in a sense, I am siding with Jason K when he says that it’s worth a listen, but not something to put on your playlist. Verdict: One and Done
Jason Stives: Nine Inch Nails have always found a way to survive over the last 25 years and that says a lot to the interest in Trent Reznor’s work.That constant erotic yet somewhat evil vibe that Reznor’s voice elicits against those face smacking electronic beats has allowed NIN’s industrial sound to transition from decade to decade. After a minor sabbatical to do film scores and a side project with his wife, Nine Inch Nails has reemerged with “Came Back Haunted” and while it instantly stands out it doesn’t feel too far removed from his previous work. While I think there is a hip and head shaking quality to it that isn’t bad it does instantly remind me of “The Hand That Feeds” the 2005 single that gained Reznor his sole Top 40 hit in the last decade. Lyrically it doesn’t bring much to the table either and it makes you wonder if Reznor really wanted to do another NIN record. Don’t get me wrong, Reznor is great at what he does but considering all the other ventures he has invested his time in this feels like an afterthought. Maybe the album won’t be like this but if this is a sign of things to come, Trent might want to just reside himself in scoring David Fincher movies, I mean, he did win an Oscar for doing that. Verdict: One and Done
Bill Bodkin: Guys, are we listening to the same song? No seriously, what song are you all listening to? This is vintage Nine Inch Nails. Is it an instant classic like “Head Like a Hole?” Nope. But this is a really good track with driving, dark and as mentioned by everyone already, “sexy” beats. It’s got a wonderful ferocity to it that’s bolstered by the chomping at the bit in anger, angst-filled, pretty little machine known as Trent Reznor’s vocals. To me, you gotta add this to the playlist as it’ll fit in nicely between all those other Nine Inch Nails gems you already have on there. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.
Final Verdict: Despite pleas for our EIC, the gang at The Singles Party is not in favor of NIN’s newest song.