Radiohead
Hail to the Thief


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hudson Echo USER (14 Reviews)
April 24th, 2012 | 15 replies | 1,791 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Radiohead's sixth LP Hail to the Thief was released in 2003 after the experimental electronic-based Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001). Some hoped for the OK computer radiohead again, and some hoped for a more guitar album, The Bends. But of course, being Radiohead, they completely changed their sound and surprised everyone. This album is a bit like OK Computer, but much darker. No, this is not the best Radiohead album. I would prefer to listen to Kid A, The Bends, or OK Computer. But, being a Radiohead album, it has its moments of glory. The mood does change awkwardly throughout, and does not flow like Kid A, for instance. It also is a little overwhelming, filled to the brim with dense tracks. It is a very uneven record; Thom could have dropped some of the weaker tracks like We Suck Young Blood or I Will. Also the first half of the album is much better than the second half.

The album begins with Hail to the Thief's equivalent to the masterpiece Paranoid Android from OK Computer, called 2+2=5, a reference to George Orwell's 1984. Like all other tracks on the album, it has an alternate title, which is The Lukewarm.. It switches time signatures, tempos, and overall sound quite a bit just like Paranoid Android. It's an uptempo rocker, and a great opening track--one of the best songs on the album. 4.5/5

Themes change a little with the next track, Sit Down. Stand Up, or Snakes and Ladders. It begins rather slow with the repeated "Sit Down/Stand Up. It continues with minimalistic lyrics as it gathers momentum and eventually explodes with the repeated "the raindrops." It's the kind of song that only Radiohead could pull off, since it seems rather boring, but because of the odd little melody and the funky electronic sounds it is a good follow-up to 2+2=5. 4/5

Next up is Sail to the Moon, a slow, powerful ballad dedicated to Thom Yorke's son. Thom claims he wrote it "in five minutes." If he did, then those were some productive five minutes. The time signature changes delicately throughout. It is not clunky at all; in fact it is a very flowing piece. One of the highlights of the album. 4.5/5

Quiet lyrics over a thumping electronic beat is what is heard on the next track, Backdrifts. It seems to melt into the background and is not what I would call a track that stands out. Nontheless, it is a very good song. It is a little repetitive, but, like Sail to the Moon, has a wonderful flow to it. It does take a few listens to "get" this track, but that's expected when it's Radiohead. 4/5

Go to Sleep is one of the guitar-lead tracks on the album--a callback to the Bends. Thom Yorke harshly repeats, "over my dead body," making a track that would have sounded a little light, sound much heavier and crueler. The guitar in this song is great, though it does seem a little underwhelming. Things pick up when the drums kick in, making this a strong 5th track. 4/5

The next track, Where I End and You Begin, in which Thom sings vaguely about "a gap in between". It may be a fan favorite, but I am not very fond of it. It is not necessarily a bad track, but it has a bit of an annoying high pitched electronic sound in the background. 3/5

Next comes We Suck Young Blood. This is definitely my least favorite song on the album. It has very minimalist lyrics. It is plagued by awkward handclaps and a slow boring beat. This is a song this album could have done without. I do not see the appeal in this track. 1/5

This next track is not too exciting either. The Gloaming, or Softly Open our Mouths in the Cold, is one of the most electronic-laden songs on the album. The chord progression is nearly unrecognizable and has very little melody. The electronics are also a little bit irritating. 2/5

There There, or The Boney King of Nowhere, is the savior of the middle of, Hail to the Thief. It is the best track on the album. Three members of Radiohead keep a wonderful, consistent, pounding drumbeat throughout the song. The chorus soars in the track as Thom wails, "Just 'cos you feel it/doesn't mean it's there." The song ends with a great guitar and the masterful lyrics "We are accidents waiting/waiting to happen." Brilliant. 5/5

I Will, or No Man's Land, is a short track, with little instruments and quiet lyrics. There is not much to this song, and seems a little half-finished. Usually with a Radiohead song like this, the tension would eventually crack and has a great ending, but the song ends quickly. There is no meat to this track. 2.5/5

A Punchup at a Wedding (No No No No No No No No) is a jazzy sounding piece beginning with a great catchy bassline and Thom slurring "no" repeatedly. This a nice rocking tune, and is a bit refreshing after the disappointing middle of the album. It is much more heavy than the last few tracks. 4/5

Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury and Executioner) continues the "heavy" theme from A Punchup at a Wedding with odd lyrics and a lot of syncopation. It is a good, dark track. The best part of the song is Thom murming with little noise in the background, "I. Don't. Know. Why. I feel. So. Tongue. Tied." 4.5/5

The next track, Scatterbrain (As Dead as Leaves) is a little simple and light after A Punchup at a Wedding and Myxomatosis. It has a nice melody, but is forgettable and does not stand out. Like Backdrifts, it melts into the background. 3/5

A Wolf At the Door, the final track, is excellent. It has the dark and heavy sound of Myxomatosis, with Thom half-speaking the verses quietly. The satirical lyrics are great: "I keep the wolf from the door and he calls me up/Calls me on the phone tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up/Steal all my children if I don't pay the ransom/ But I'll never see them again if I squeal to the cops." A great closer to the album. 5/5



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user ratings (3348)
Chart.
3.9
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2012



49955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh boy a track by track!


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

Graveyard
April 24th 2012



5674 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

won't neg since first review

Digging: Venn Rain - Crepuscular Raze

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2012



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Congratulations on your frist review.
Track by tracks are not always received well by most in this website- just a heads up. The format is a little weird, but you do a great job describing the songs. Have a pos!

I love this album, my 2nd favorite behind In Rainbows.



Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2012



49955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

where i end a 2?
and we suck young blood a 1?

Apollo
April 24th 2012



10280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album has grown on me a lot

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2012



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have to agree with Trebor.
Where I End is definitely one of the highlights and The gloaming a 1.5? I respect that it's your opinion... but you should give those songs another try, A lot of Radiohead's music takes a few listens to grasp their genius.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2012



49955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Where I End And You Begin has that amazing japanese instrument in it

PuddlesPuddles
April 24th 2012



4772 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

My favorite blur album

iamnotconeren
April 24th 2012



67 Comments


same here bromanguyyfeller

IMZA1793
April 24th 2012



843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The gloaming is one of my favorites actually.

dammets
April 24th 2012



2035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i feel like whenever i listen to this, im doing it the wrong way

PuddlesPuddles
April 24th 2012



4772 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I had the same problem

Try the ears, it worked for me

macman76
April 25th 2012



373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^^^
Nice
We Suck Young Blood is my 2nd favorite song on this one so a 1 is a BLASPHEME! I could never get into Gloaming but it's not a 1.5 either.

Musicface42
April 25th 2012



64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you for all of the feedback. For my next review I will not do a track-by-track review. Also, I will listen to Where I End and Where You Begin and The Gloaming again.

paxman
April 25th 2012



4084 Comments


"Track by tracks are not always received well by most in this website"

No, they're not well-received anywhere because they are monumentally retarded.



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