Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Despite a pessimistic view of life, Trent Reznor occasionally steps out of the darkness. He wants to help a girl overcome pain ("The Fragile") and finds strength in a friendship ("We're in This Together").
Awash in poetic angst and self-loathing, these songs trade melody for melancholy. The artist views himself as poisoned, worthless, uncaring ("Somewhat Damaged") and empty ("Please"). On "The Wretched," he gripes, "God himself will reach his f---ing arm through/Just to push you down." According to "Even Deeper" and "The Big Come Down," even upbeat days are more mirage than oasis, serving only to make things worse in the end. The nasty "Starf---ers, Inc." involves vindictive name-calling and a reference to one man performing oral sex on another. Anger. Despair. Bitterness toward God. The advisory label is much deserved for an assortment of blasphemies and obscenities.
This follow-up to 1994's The Downward Spiral (5 million copies sold) avoids angry songs about animalistic sex and suicide. For that we are truly grateful. Still, more than 100 minutes of self-destructiveness and pain make The Fragile only a mild improvement. Encourage teens to pray for Reznor instead of wallowing in his ear-splitting hopelessness.