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May 16, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-16

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May 16, 2005
Reznor's angst
plagues new LP
By Gabe Rivin
Daily Arts Writer



MUSIC R-.....
Sixteen years into Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor still
suffers from the same aggressive depression that made
his music a popular counterpart to Nirvana in the early
'90s. But post-NIN material has shown
how Reznor's songwriting has entered Nine Inch
a stagnance that's inappropriate for the Nails
39-year-old rock star.
Reznor has always capitalized on his With Teeth
'tortured artist" image. Most listeners Interscope
feel some affinity for the band's S&M-
style lyrics ("I wanna fuck you like an animal," anyone?),
but with Nine Inch Nails' MTV popularity mostly behind
them, With Teeth remains dedicated to their quintessential
style. Fans will especially appreciate the effort that Reznor
put into making the album, which is a masterwork of stu-
dio production. The opening track, "All the Love in the
World," is a catchy and enjoyable song; fitted with poppy
drum machine beats and an ominous piano line, it moves in
several directions before settling on Reznor's howl.
But while Nine Inch Nails' diehard fans won't be disap-
pointed by With Teeth, anyone who isn't stuck in the rebel-
lious phase may find Reznor's efforts insincere and forced.
Song titles like "Every Day is Exactly the Same" dem-
snstrate how Reznor is trying to force the torment. And
though several songs offer a unique form, With Teeth gen-
erally consists of the standard, verse-chorus-verse layout
topped with Reznor's whisper-scream vocals.
} How long does Reznor think he can act like a tortured
artist before his fans catch on to his formula? Despite his
wannabe-expressionistic style, With Teeth inspires ambiva-
lence because Reznor is wasting his considerable capabili-
ties. It's time he moves past his anger and depression and
embraces a more sophisticated songwriting medium.

By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer
A simple way to describe the new romantic
comedy "Monster-In-Law" is tocall it afemale-
oriented (and less funny)
version of "Meet The Par-
ents." But while both films Monster-
pivot around a couple going in-Law
through the awkward, oft- At Showcase
humiliating first experience and Quality 16
with the in-laws, "Monster- New Line
In-Law" is an insipid wreck
of a movie that doesn't even
come close to reaching the comedic heights of
the already overrated "Parents," or, worse yet,
its utterly inane sequel.
Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) is a temp worker
who falls in love with Kevin (Michael Vartan,
TV's "Alias"). But when they go to meet his
neurotic mother, Viola (Jane Fonda, "Nine to
Five"), a former television personality, she plots
to ruin the couple's relationship. Nasty deeds,
harsh words and catty backstabbing ensue.
When it comes to plot and characters,

"You know, my 'Lower Body Solution' workout would do numbers on that ass.'

"Monster-In-Law" is strictly by the numbers.
There's the obligatory epiphany scene at the
climax, when characters learn moral lessons
that exist primarily to bring the film to a sappy
close. Many of the supporting characters are
also cookie cutter, like the former flame who
tries to woo Kevin away and Charlie's gay best
friend, a media-obsessed stereotype who gives
her love advice. Add to that the sophomoric
humor (just how funny can food allergies and
cathartic revenge fantasies be?), and it's clear
that director Robert Luketic ("LegallytBlonde")
has lost his touch for comedic rhythm.
Meanwhile, Lopez makes Charlie a stan-
dard, nonchalant character without any real

spunk or appeal. Vartan's presence is equal-
ly puzzling, as he lacks any chemistry with
Lopez. Thanks to Fonda, though, the film's
cast isn't a complete waste. While it's unclear
why she chose this movie as her long-await-
ed return vehicle, Fonda is delightful as the
nutty, overbearing title character.
Despite this, romantic comedies don't
get much more mundane than "Monster-
In-Law." Still, the movie marks an above-
average comeback performance for Fonda,
who has been away from Hollywood far too
long. Hopefully, it won't be another 15 years
before audiences get to see the one-of-a-kind
Oscar winner on the silver screen again.


;Fiction' adds to Spoon's great catalog

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Editor
In the calfskin-taut midsection of
Spoon's brilliant Gimme
Fiction, the aesthetic com- Spoon
parisons to Spoon's forefa-
:hers fall away and we're Gimmiel
left to ponder: Is the trio Fiction
from Austin, Texas - a Merge
cradle of indie civilization
in the middle of red-state wasteland - in
he midst of a winning streak great enough
:o warrant comparison to the famed trifec-
:a of Stones albums (Beggar's Banquet,
et It Bleed, Sticky Fingers)? Are Spoon's
ists in sound, from the brooding bed-
:oom rock of Girls Can Tell to the thin,
welterweight strong-structures of Kill The
Voonlight, convincing enough to warrant
>otential rock blasphemy?
Gimme Fiction has more meat on its
iones than the negative space-chewing
ngs on Moonlight. "The Two Sides of
Ionsieur Valentine" gets a boost from an
unforced string section that compliments
inger Brit Daniel's puzzling and ulti-
nately tragic narrative. The deft turn into
'I Turn My Camera On" and its haunting
sleaze-funk, complete with murmured

vocals, establishes a rhythm of thematic
crests and shadowy valleys for the rest of
the album. Lurid, voyeuristic songs like
"The Infinite Pet" and "Was It You?" dip
their toes in dirty electronic noise pools.
Clean, acoustic tracks build up in crescen-
dos that lead to a guitar-smacked cathar-
sis. "Sister Jack" rambles through brassy
percussion and jangling guitars.
Each attempt to pin down a concrete
influence on Gimme Fiction brings with
it a different interpretation. The acous-
tic movements gain distance; previously
cold tremors of feedback, as in the opener
"Beast and Dragon, Adored," suddenly
feel downright necessary. It's equally dif-
ficult to pick a favorite track on Gimme
Fiction. The album doesn't feature an

obvious crowd pleaser, though "Monsieur
Valentine" comes closest. Moonlight's
lead single, "The Way We Get By" con-
verted listeners to the Spoon bandwagon,
but anyone who stopped to listen to the
whole album found a trove of tracks wor-
thy of adoration. The reverse is more true
here: You're attracted to the concept of
Gimme Fiction before slowly discovering
the appeal of individual songs.
The moody sexuality and piano-driven
songs on Spoon's latest may trick listen-
ers into mistaking Gimme Fiction for a
distillation of Girls Can Tell, but Daniel's
romantic grimace lurks under the surface
with more visceral bite. And while the
title alone evokes both the Stooges' and
Stones' more desperate moments, Spoon
avoids rank imitation again: They tell
stories with pure truth and lay down raw
indie-rock beside malleable, drowsy bal-
lads that slither over the ear like a snake.
Again, discussing which bands in the
past 40-odd years of rock have influenced
Spoon isn't a completely fruitless exercise,
but it's certainly more fun and productive
to imagine the bands that are going to be
made in their image. They're going to
want to sound like Spoon. They're going
to remember the moment they first heard
Gimme Fiction on their stereo growing
up, and we should, too.

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