Tweaker

Don't blame Chris Vrenna for trying. Other former members of Nine Inch Nails have escaped Trent's inertia, but while they've found relative obscurity or mediocrity (see Guns N' Roses and Filter), Vrenna's solo work as Tweaker seems to strive for real, rarefied electronic artistry. 2001's The Attraction to All Things Uncertain was a credible debut full of astute guest vocals and ambient accessibility, but momentum is lost with a sophomore effort that drifts by in a cough syrup fog, failing to engage the listener on anything but an aesthetic level. Despite a fertile theme (that of nocturnal consciousness and dream states), the muted trip-hop beats (whose "Sell By" date expired with Portishead) that are sprinkled over acoustic picking, industrial pummeling and knob-noodling melancholia prove noteworthy solely from the standpoint of textured production. At best, 2 a.m. wakeup call recalls the occasional (and expected) instrumental fragility of NIN, and at worst, it leaves the borrowed pipes of Robert Smith, Will Oldham and Elysian Fields chanteuse Jennifer Charles with nothing to do but talk over bland down-tempo minimalist pop. A well-intentioned bore, this is nothing more than a disappointing diversion to the eventual rousing of Rip Van Reznor.
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Matt Hursh

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