Atoms for Peace
Amok


2.8
good

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
February 21st, 2013 | 122 replies | 35,747 views


Release Date: 02/25/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Thom Yorke????”

In an ideal world, supergroups would be the manifestation of commercial music in its highest form – unstoppable shows of force sliding forth purposefully from one’s speakers, lending credence to the belief that the assembled musicians were meant to perform together all along. In real life however, they rarely exhibit what made us so excited about them in the first place, with the resultant records being merely passable or easily forgettable – which is precisely the category that the Thom Yorke-led Atoms for Peace find themselves falling into on their debut studio outing.

If there's a defining theme to Amok, it's that it rarely escapes sounding like a solo record from the Radiohead frontman. For all the added bells and whistles – aside from Yorke, the album also features the talents of Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M. (drums), instrumentalist Mauro Refosco (percussion), Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (bass), and longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (production and programming) – the English singer-songwriter remains as an overpowering, and at times even suffocating, influence. Any extemporaneous hope that the backing combination would somehow find it within themselves to improvise freely within their role as Yorke’s musical bitch also quickly falls to pieces, as apart from a precious few exceptions, none of the gathered musicians seem able nor willing to push each other into new musical territory that could yield fresh revelations about their union.

The word on Amok is that it was recorded over a three day jam session, with beats and licks from the tour de force being subsequently culled, processed, and, over the next two years, meshed together into a more cohesive whole by both Yorke and Godrich. But while Amok was always likely to have been an album in the vein of The Eraser – “more beats and electronics”, as Yorke himself famously put it – this chosen method of recording and production contributes to the overarching sense that the album deliberately favours the artificial. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the upshot of this is that it frequently feels like Yorke’s co-conspirators – save for, perhaps, Godrich – are stymied rather than amplified. And it shows, too: songs like "Reverse Running" and “Default” feel like pieces that Yorke could easily have played and performed on his own, while “Judge, Jury, Executioner” falls too quickly into the trap of sounding like a Radiohead b-side. But ultimately, it's an unfulfilling and inconsequential number like "Unless" that confirms the amount of missed opportunities for Atoms for Peace; “I couldn’t care less/Care less/Such a mess,” murmurs Yorke on the track, and you can’t help but feel like he’s telling the truth.

Notably though, the songs that make the most overt stabs at a distinct identity are perhaps the most interesting ones: opening track “Before Your Very Eyes…”, for instance, contains the record’s most unexpected moment – an introductory section that sounds enticingly like an amalgam of the bassline to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Hard To Concentrate” and the skittering, bubbly shuffle of The King of Limbs’ “Bloom”. Then there’s the eerie “Ingenue”, which thrives on atmosphere and succeeds solely on the back of a brittle-sounding synthesizer rhythm section and a schizophrenia-inducing sample that recalls the hollow drip-drip-drip of distant water in a cave. Elsewhere, “Stuck Together Pieces” features Flea laying out a propulsive bass riff that comes with such a generous distribution of acreage it almost feels like it was written and composed in outer space.

As that penultimate paragraph suggests, it's quite likely that the average listener might find something to enjoy within the dense, layered folds of Amok – it should also be said that vocally, Yorke has never sounded more accomplished and at ease with himself as he does here. But it’s hard not to feel that a lot more could have come out of this than an improved vocal performance and a couple of interesting digital samples. For all their early promise, Atoms for Peace end up offering nothing except a wistful glance down the road of what-could-have-been – just like so many other so-called supergroups.



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user ratings (351)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
BrianE (3.5)
Supergroup Atoms for Peace gives Thom Yorke chance for one more encore...

Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (4)
Thom does what Thom does for Thom....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2013



7136 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Album's streaming here:

http://amok.atomsforpeace.info/

Funeralopolis
February 21st 2013



10990 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

agreed, album is very underwhelming

Digging: Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke

MikeC26
February 21st 2013



3139 Comments


This is probably boring as shit but something inside me is telling me I'd like it. Nice review dawg

robin
Emeritus
February 21st 2013



4241 Comments


i love this album but this is cool irv

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2013



7136 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Can we still hold hands? =S

robin
Emeritus
February 21st 2013



4241 Comments


yea but we'll have to get seperate ipods

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2013



9973 Comments


Trve couples share ipods, sorry you guys cannot share this

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2013



7136 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

If you think this is over then you're wrong

chambered99
February 21st 2013



779 Comments


good reviw man

Digging: Baton Rouge - Totem

tommygun
February 21st 2013



23508 Comments


really nice review irving

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon

jtswope
February 21st 2013



1831 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

from what i've heard on this album i like it, but i have to sit down and listen to the whole thing

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2013



49758 Comments


Beautiful emeritus avatar

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

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2013



23798 Comments


I really hope I disagree with the general consensus so far, been anticipating this one for a while.

wabbit
February 21st 2013



6975 Comments


Not going to hear this until tomorrow night but everything anyone has said leads me to believe that this is going to be a 5

SeaAnemone
February 21st 2013



19681 Comments


it's very good and yes wabbit will love it
on a greg scale of 4-4.5 it's like a 7
love the influences here though whatever they are

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

kitsch
February 21st 2013



5107 Comments


so basically you had expectations that this was going to sound like some combination of those musicians bands

and when it didnt you rated it a 2.8

how about reviewing on merits instead of your own skewed expectations and disappointment

yorkes solo stuff isnt anything to sneeze at

if he uses this stuff to make unorthodox yorke songs then huzzah

SleepyJack
February 21st 2013



198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've not listened to the whole thing but it seems decent enough so far. I was pretty much expecting it to sound like a Thom Yorke solo album anyway so I'm not disappointed in that respect.

yoniroars
February 21st 2013



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

kitsch - I don't think people understand how supergroups work, or why more often than not they don't work or don't answer people's expectations. Primarily, if you read the interviews, it was always going to be a Thom Yorke album as it was his idea, and his songs he was bringing in. I don't think anyone hearing the names of the musicians in this "band" think of the outcome of the collaboration. It would sound very strange to hear Thom Yorke's signature falsetto with Flea's intense heavy funky bass playing. And people don't realise how much of a mess that sound may turn out be. I think, if anything, it shows how versatile they are as a backing band, as they can easily adapt to Thom Yorke's style, which is by no means a defined genre.
I personally think Thom Yorke always reinvents himself, using some sounds from past productions, constantly evolving and adapting to new genres/styles. A good example in my opinion is the Beatles, starting as a simple rocknroll band and taking the elements which made them successful, such as vocal harmonies and instrumental arrangements, into unexplored grounds (at the time) of psychedelic rock.

Uranium
February 21st 2013



7043 Comments


last sentence reads, "what's more Thom Yorke than making everyone else sound like as Thom Yorke as well?"

should fix to like thom yorke or as thom yorke

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2013



7136 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Crap good catch thanks bud.



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