The Fragile (also known as Halo 14) is a concept double album by American Industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails, released in 1999 on Reznor's Nothing Records. The album is Nine Inch Nails' fourth major label release and the fourteenth halo. The album continues the plot of The Downward Spiral, despite the complete change in sound and style of the album. Instead of heavily distorted instruments, and gritty industrial sounds, the album relies much more on soundscapes, electronic beats, ambient noise, and heavy metal-laden guitar, such as in the single "Starfuckers, Inc." Trent Reznor describes the album's plot and story as "a theme of things falling apart." Reznor has also said the album is bleaker than The Downward Spiral, despite the more aggressive, depressing tone of that album. Many songs on the album borrow bass, guitar, and keyboard lines from other songs on the album; most notably "The Frail" piano becoming "The Fragile" guitar and the bassline used in "La Mer" reappearing in "Into the Void".
The album was not as much of a commercial success as The Downward Spiral, most likely accredited to Interscope Records' lack of promotion of the album, and the lack of a stand-out single. Despite a strong start at #1 on the Billboard Top 10, the album quickly slipped out of the Billboard Top 10 only a week after its release, and Reznor was forced to provide funding for the subsequent North American tour out of his own pocket. The cover artwork was designed by David Carson.
The first single, "The Day the World Went Away", was released two months before the album. "Into the Void" and "We're in This Together" proved to be the album's most successful singles. The B-side track "Starfuckers, Inc." was released on the album as a track at the last minute, and became The Fragile's last single.
Reznor described The Fragile in a 1999 interview:
"There's a general theme to the album of systems failing and things sort of falling apart. In keeping with the idea of making everything sound a little broken, I chose stringed instruments because they're imperfect by nature. Although it may not sound like it, most of the album is actually guitar - and that includes the orchestral sounds and weird melodic lines. When it came to instruments that I didn't really know how to play - like the ukulele or the slide guitar - we were able to get some really interesting sounds by making the studio the main instrument."
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