Going Along for the Pride
Ilan Rubin could not have hoped for a better situation under which to imagine and compose Speak Through the White Noise, the sophomore album from The New Regime. Rubin has been the drummer for Nine Inch Nails since the age of 17, when he replaced Josh Freese in 2008. Some of this album’s tracks were penned or conceived during NIN’s tour with Jane’s Addiction, and the ’90s influence is clear. Noise, however, is not without currency.
The New Regime is Rubin alone, and he drives that point home on his website. There listeners can not only hear the 12 songs from Noise, but read copious notes on the writing, recording, and production process. It’s clear that Rubin’s immensely proud of his achievement, and his commentary is interesting, but it’s also like watching a magician reveal his secrets. Effective production in music is like good defense in baseball: no one should notice it unless it’s bad. And at times the production comes across like a child who spilled his toy box and needs to play with everything at once.
Still, Rubin’s care and direction are noteworthy. The songwriting and riffsmithing do not get lost under layers of sound. There are some finely crafted tunes, like the offbeat but catchy “State of Possession” and the orchestral “Enjoy the Bitterness.” And just as the album begins to drag, “For the Taking” grabs the listener’s attention with its subtlety. Compared to his 2008 debut Coup, Rubin appears to have found focus and a comfort zone. NIN’s bloodline is evident, including Rubin’s Reznor-like voice, but The New Regime also engages the tunefulness of Superchunk, the guitar work of Smashing Pumpkins, and even hints of Fugazi and Foo Fighters. Adding his own sonic signature, Rubin has compiled a derivative but distinct collection of works.