"Year Zero", though, makes up for all that. I have been listening for this album on repeat for weeks now. Far longer than I normally will when first appreciating a new album. Some tracks are certainly better than others. Some could probably be cut without significantly hurting the overall work. But even those that I think are the worst on the album prove to have their place in the overall story and they are still good pieces. There is more of the old-skool NIN that we grew up on. The heavy industrial tones they carved a niche with are there on at least half the album. But at the same time they are put together with a more sophisticated touch that has obviously been learnt from their last two works. The album has a much 'darker' feel to it than I got from the previous one, and there also seems to be a much more concerted effort behind it.
Overall, I think this is easily one of their best albums. Perhaps not *the* best -- I'd have to re-listen to the catalogue a few times to decide that -- but certainly in the top few. And I'd likely want it to be a "desert island disc" for me (though that could just be the current fascination talking).
edit: added link