"I am not who I used to be," sings Trent Reznor, which may be one explanation why he has reactivated Nine Inch Nails so soon after 2009's Wave Goodbye tour. Still, the NIN mainman is otherwise as good as his word: there are less of the pulverising rhythms and brain-mashing guitars for which the band are known. In come lithe, funky, electro-pop grooves that nod to Depeche Mode, LCD Soundsystem and even – yes – gay disco. Hesitation Marks is a very different beast to an intense industrial classic such as 1994's The Downward Spiral, but the darkness remains in lyrics that address self-doubt and the struggle for identity with honesty and candour. Post-rehab and fatherhood, the sparse and eerie Find My Way tells of the 48-year-old's battle to negotiate a way forward, free of old demons. The newfound clarity is doing wonders for his songwriting. Any fans missing the brutal force of Head Like a Hole are pointed towards Copy of A and Came Back Haunted, two of the strongest tunes of his career.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author