One of Those Perfectly Formed Debuts: Ned Raggett on Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine


Although I am growing more conflicted about, if not downright hostile toward, anniversary features like the one I’m including here, this one is notable both for its subject matter and its (mostly) not succumbing to self-congratulatory, nostalgic impulses. What Ned Raggett does here is to explain the contemporary and lingering resonance of one of the most striking debut recordings of the late 1980s.Pretty Hate Machine CD Cover Indeed, in pitched battles about what to play on the store stereo system at Philadelphia’s Discovery Discs, where I worked from 1989 to 1991, no one ever objected to playing this album because it was bad or mediocre, only because it had already been played—in its entirety—on a given day, and sometimes more than once. The goths, the punks, the hip-hop heads—we all found something immediately engaging and deeply powerful in it. Read on to find out why…

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