Beyoncé flipped the music industry on its head when she released her self-titled fifth album without any advance notice, but she wasn’t the only artist with surprises this year. David Bowie provided a little bit of precedent by managing to keep the news of his unexpected new album under wraps until, well, he announced the news of his unexpected new album. Some of us thought The Next Day wasn’t that great regardless. Some of us is not Trent Reznor.
In a special column for The Hollywood Reporter, the Nine Inch Nails and How to Destroy Angels leader praised Bowie’s latest record and contrasted its no-frills release to the extensive marketing campaign that absolutely ensconced Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. (On the latter he writes, “OK, I get it. You’ve got an album out, you’ve played every TV show in the world.”) He song-splained that Mr. Stardust is often “so far ahead of the game, it takes time to catch up.”
Reznor referred to the Thin White Duke as “the most important figure to have inspired me,” and made a strong case for revisiting The Next Day: “I listened to it while going back and forth to the Valley for Nine Inch Nails rehearsals. It was a puzzle — it didn’t sound like how I thought it might sound. I thought maybe it was a bit conservative sonically. But over several months, it made its way into my playlist on countless bus rides.”
And then he drops the jacket quote to end all jacket quotes: “When I’m sitting alone to listen to music, I reach for The Next Day.” Regardless of what you (or we) think of the LP, Bowie’s status as a rock’n’roll legend isn’t up for debate. Reznor could also be talking about himself as he closes: “He’s been a consistent reference point as somebody who is uncompromising. He has found an audience yet challenges that audience and continues moving forward in a fearless way.”
Still, there’s at least one thing these two are afraid of: