The rivalry between Filter frontman Richard Patrick and his former employer, Trent Reznor, may well result in a surreptitious reconciliation that becomes the subject of a VH1 telefilm. In the meantime, it’s “Take a Picture” that’s repositioned Filter from the dissonant angst of “Hey Man, Nice Shot” into visceral introspection. Reznor has been trying to find himself, but himself keeps slipping away, and nobody is around to wonder if he’s enjoying the ride; Patrick, however, seems to be craving a photograph of himself, something to remind him, so he doesn’t spend his life just wishing. A ready-made soundtrack to graduation ceremony slide shows, “Take a Picture” ‘s surface feels mournful, even if its spangled surge is but a less malignant variation on Public Image Ltd.’s “Rise.” It ascends toward the plane of generic angst, Patrick kicking and screaming against sanctity, hypocrisy, and privacy. But then, its primordial denouement—”Hey Dad what do you think about your son now?”—sounds more the stuff of a smug Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? lifeline call than a Nine Inch Nails alum’s condemnation of parenting.
Turns out Patrick was inspired by flying the friendly skies au naturel, his passage into the smile-high club becoming swell fodder for radio. Its lyrics detail his nekkidness with such yearning that “Take a Picture” could readily join “True Colors” as the commercial soundtrack for future Kodak Moments. And in an era deficient in power balladry, Filter have pulled a fast one, with the balance of their Title of Record CD burdened by cranky crunch. Yet not since Ray Stevens’s “The Streak” has hedonism been celebrated with such shameless spirituality. By contrast, the only thing “Take a Picture” lacks is the kazoo solo.