Review Summary: Radiohead fans rejoice! The Eraser provides solid Radiohead fun without the Radiohead name.
Thom Yorke’s latest project is supposedly independent of Radiohead, however, listeners may beg to differ based on the album’s electronic Kid A/Amnesiac-esque sound and the usual creepy lyrics that are central to Thom Yorke’s style.
The title track opens the album with a synthetic pulsing keyboard that immediately tells you that this album is going to be heavily electronic. In fact, the album as a whole sounds like the result of locking a curious mad-scientist musician in a room with a only a laptop, a microphone and a pen and pad, although the pen and pad are optional.
“The Eraser” is a bizarre track that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Lyrically, Yorke is more introspective and out there, but is still in typical Thom Yorke form. As in the past, Yorke spends a lot of time meshing his voice with the rhythm of the music, blending his whiny, high-pitched wailing with the rigid machinery of noise behind him.
My favorite tracks on the album have to be “And It Rained All Night” and “Harrowed Down Hill”. “And It Rained All Night’s” rhythmic percussion and thumping synthetic bass mixed with Thom’s signature drawl and onomatopoetic mimicking of the percussion makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a rainy, hazy night, even though the California heat is on the rise. “Harrowed Down Hill’s” bassline and haunting chorus, “I’m coming home, I’m coming home/To make it alright so dry your eyes/We think the same things at the same times/We just can’t do anything about it”, really make it stand out in my mind. One of Thom’s most emotional pieces, this song really seems to bring out the angst inside his soul and voice his depression. Of course, the chanting outro doesn’t hurt either (“slip away slip away slippery slope…”).
Other standout tracks include “Analyse”, “Black Swan”, and “Atoms for Peace”. On “Analyse”, Thom’s vocals and keyboard really stood out to me. Those two elements make this track reminiscent of Radiohead’s electronic endeavors and were the reason why I fell in love with the album on my first listen. Call me a sucker for good bass lines. “Black Swan’s” bassy intro is why I really love this song. Oh and this track is one of the few that features an electric guitar. As a guitarist, I reserve the right to be biased toward tracks that have guitars in them. Other than that, the lyrics are what really do it for me. Thom Yorke comes through with yet another mystical, lyrical masterpiece, blending rhythm into melody into his signature style of singing. “Atoms for Peace”, with the muffled intro and Yorke’s high pitched whining, is another one of The Eraser’s standout tracks. I just love the line “So many allies, so many allies, so many allies” and “I want to eat your artichoke heart”.
The Eraser is one interesting album, to say the least. Although I don’t think this is for everyone, Radiohead fans will surely eat this up. The electronic feel of the album will no doubt appease to the Kid A and Amnesiac fans, while the tone and Thom Yorke’s melodic whining will reach out to fans of Hail to the Thief. Personally, I am not a big fan of Radiohead’s electronic escapades, so I was a little disgruntled with the album initially. However upon my subsequent listens, the album started to grow on me. Thom Yorke gets very creative with the electronic drum beats and basslines on The Eraser, and it is definitely worth checking out if you want something experimental and far out.