Now, here’s the paradox: if not for the bleak lyrics over his compositions, what the hell would Reznor do? It would be weird if the guy who wrote “Hurt” (alas, it wasn’t Johnny Cash) did a total 180 and started singing out how wonderful life is, because that’s just not his thing. Nine Inch Nails doesn’t have to become a bubblegum pop band; I just think Reznor needs to consider whether or not his work under that name still feels genuine. When he put Nine Inch Nails in the closet — or, to use the music industry euphemism, “on hiatus” — it seemed like he was ready to concentrate on other projects and move on to a new stage of his career. That didn’t stick, although I wish it had. Reznor should stop constraining himself to the same lyrical territory he’s been treading since George Bush Sr. was president, while writing far superior music. Who knows what he could accomplish if he stopped being so bummed out?