Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


5.0
classic

Review

by Joe Denby USER (17 Reviews)
September 25th, 2011 | 36 replies | 5,055 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The unsung hero.

15 of 18 thought this review was well written

Hail to the Thief, as the successor to Amnesiac, comes at a strange time in Radiohead's discography. Amnesiac was the one that let people down, solid, but a relative nonentity compared to the musical goliaths that preceded it. This was to be Radiohead's return to glory, a magnum opus of the 21st century to return the band to their previous, infallible standing. Did it live up to the hype? Not really. I don't know whether it was the continuing musical progression towards alternative electronica, the bleaker, more abstract connotations of the album, or maybe people believed it simply wasn't as good as its predecessors, but somehow, it just didn't quite click to fill the arenas, nor send critics on a hyperbole driven spree of adulation.

It was the same for me, having spun the album incessantly years ago, searching for that feeling I experienced when I first heard Idioteque. Nope. I mean, I knew the album was good, but it wasn't Radiohead good. It wasn't until about six months ago, bored on a long walk home at seven at night, that time where the dark's closing in and you find yourself watching leaves skip down the road, carried by the breeze. Everything snapped into place. I don't remember whether it was the infinite layering of synthesisers in "Sit Down, Stand Up", that climax of “the raindrops”, with laser sounds and frenzied drums, or the haunting, sombre lull that is “We Suck Young Blood” because it doesn't matter, the moment is ever changing, and never any less significant.

If anyone were to epitomise the shift in sound, it's Thom Yorke himself. Desperate to not be pinned down, to be clarified, the lyrics grow more abstract and morose the more you listen. The words paint a bleak, grey outlook on what the word will become, and maybe in his eyes, has already become. Political slights, 1984 references, the evils of big business, Yorke grimly recites a twisted perspective and performs it exceptionally. The spoken verses of “Wolf At The Door”, so softly spoke and yet so intense, or the angry yelp in “2+2=5”, both powerful and yet entirely different.

Despite four of the five members being guitarists, they're used sparsely, something which only enhances their effect. It's why that riff halfway through “Where I End and You Begin” is so memorable, and it's why the harsh, contrasting blare of “Myxamatosis” comes as such a shock to the system after what you've come to expect. Greenwood's slick bass undercurrent is a driving force in what often devolves into heavily rhythm based sections (“A Punchup at a Wedding”, anyone?), Selway's drumming knowing exactly where to build and where to retreat, always tuned to situation and what it necessitates i.e. the aforementioned “Sit Down, Stand Up”. But, this is Radiohead, so they go past the conventional. The sweeping sound throughout “Backdrifts”, the culmination of noise in “The Gloaming”, a freaking ondes martenot, it all just works in a way only they could make it.

Maybe it'll never snap into place for other people, like it did for me. Maybe this album was just there at the right place, at the right time and distorted my take on what's otherwise a lesser release from a musical great. Maybe. But when Yorke cried upon hearing “I Will” for the first time complete, I will always understand his feeling, because the moment is always there, always so important, ever changing.



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user ratings (3335)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
DirEnRefused
September 25th 2011



2134 Comments


"send critics on a hyperbole driven spree of adulation."

Lol, hypocrisy.

Activista anti-MTV
September 25th 2011



3138 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos'd

Maniac!
September 25th 2011



26246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

favorite RH album

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2011



6366 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review

Amazing album, each song has been my favorite at one time

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

Eons
September 25th 2011



447 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Fuck Thom Yorke

Fuck Radiohead

Shit band.

Digging: C.A. Quintet - Trip Thru Hell

AnyColour74
September 25th 2011



1054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^good opinion, thanks for sharing

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2011



7144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review half-feels like it's trying to do a Channing Freeman.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2011



15340 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not like that's a bad thing though.

Pos'd

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2011



7144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It most definitely isn't - my bad if I made it sound like it was.

Wildcatforever
September 25th 2011



441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review, I miss me some political Radiohead. Pos'd.

theacademy
September 25th 2011



28255 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

this is their least awful album

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2011



49801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Too much filler

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

tarkus
September 25th 2011



5560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have a pos

YetAnotherBrick
September 25th 2011



4398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, would ya look that. A 5 for Hail to the Thief well justified. Have a pos.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2011



21582 Comments


"this is their least awful album"
Album Rating: 1.5

"2 poor
Radiohead Kid A
Radiohead OK Computer"

Digging: Septicflesh - Communion

theacademy
September 25th 2011



28255 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

if you knew anything about sputnik you'd understand why that doesn't apply FAGGOT

porch
September 25th 2011



8452 Comments


out of your depth here fish

MarvellousG
September 25th 2011



368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, good album. Pos! Although you didn't mention There There, which isn't only the best thing on HTTF but the best thing Radiohead have ever done, imo. Still, good job.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2011



21582 Comments


yeah I like dick

DirEnRefused
September 25th 2011



2134 Comments


Thanks for the pos' guys, I appreciate it.

Might start getting back into this reviewing thing.



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