September 4, 2003

Test Spin: Radiohead

Print More

Radiohead’s latest effort, Hail to the Thief, is a puzzling work given the experimental direction they had begun to explore with Kid A and Amnesiac. Chief is not a return to the guitar-based songwriting of The Bends or OK Computer, but the songs are definitely more structured and less out there than their recent efforts. The album is actually a refreshing change from the last two albums, as singer Thom Yorke spends more time crooning haunting melodies and less time sounding drowned out by a pandemonium of excessive instrumentation. The opening track, “2+2=5,” sets the mood of the album by snapping out of a soft, dreamy opening into a song that actually rocks. From there the album alternates between the chaotic sound of Kid A and a harsher, more melancholy tone that is almost punk-like in its structure. Yorke’s lyrics have a paranoiac edge as he shouts on the opening song: “All hail to the thief/ But I’m not!/ Don’t question my authority/ or put me in the dock.” Other highlights include “Go to Sleep,” a schizophrenic song about breaking up, in which Yorke sounds unusually calm as he sings, but spits lines such as “I will eat you all alive/ And there’ll be no more lies.” The first single, “There There,” is another beautifully sad song about troubled relationships. Surprisingly this album finds Radiohead the most upbeat we’ve seen them in years. While it doesn’t give us much indication as to what we will hear in the future, Hail to the Thief is another great album from one of the few bands left who can be counted on to deliver.

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh