Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, has been the musical genius behind one of the world most popular bands for 15 years. Now in the process of the stalemate record of Radiohead’s seventh full-length album, Thom Yorke randomly steps out of the recording process for about a month to record a solo album. The first question that pops in my mind as a fan of the band is: How will he do without his bandmates? The second question is: will the sound be electronic like on Kid A and Amnesiac or the mix of electronics with the generic rock song like on the album Hail To The Thief or Ok Computer?
Yes, Thom Yorke can make good music without his bandmates. The only bandmate you have to worry about Thom being without is Jonny Greenwood, the man who creates all the masterful beats and can play many instruments at once. But since the beats are simple and easily made over a computer Thom could do it without his bandmate. It really is amazing what Thom proves he can do on this album. Spending a month in studio, he really took his time and made a good record.
The album is more like a Hail To The Thief or Ok Computer. And there are a few reasons why: Thom voice isn’t distorted as often as it is on Kid A and Amnesiac, “Black Swan" is a clear cut single for the album similar to “There There", and the countless singles from “Ok Computer", and the record often can deal with many things such as hospitals, depression, and the government, such as in any Radiohead album but most clearly in “Ok Computer".
The first song on the album, “The Eraser", sound like a cry out from Thom Yorke that you will never be able to get rid of him no matter how hard you try, or the song could be about a relationship. The song starts out with a generic techno beat similar to something you find on “Hail To The Thief", and then it progress to Thom vocals were he screams “Doing me in, Doing me in, Doing me in" it is a perfect set-up for the chorus which proclaims: “The more you try to erase me the more, the more, the more that I appear", with the mumbles in the background which somehow perfectly accompanied Thom vocals. Everything about this song structure wise is just perfect. The second stanza if vocals is even better in my opinion, it seems that it even has a little bit of emotion than the first part, the electronics pick up and Thom goes with the same pre-chorus and chorus, and it again works out beautifully. This was a good choice by Thom as a first song, and it proclaims that he can still make beautiful music.
The second song deals with Thom personal problems in “Analyse" Thom throws depressing vocals and a catchy beat perfectly into a song. Though not as good as the albums album the song is carried by its perplexing chorus and fast rhythm. “There’s no time left to analyse." It seems like the chorus goes on forever with millions of ideas thrown in kind of like “The National Anthem" on Kid A. But Thom somehow makes it work. There are a lot of obstacles facing “Analyze", the never-ending chorus, and it is another depressing song but Thom intelligence and original beat carry this song as a good second track.
“The Clock", is Thom’s first politically charged song on the album but many songs on “Hail To The Thief" were politically charged so this song fits in to Thom recent work. The first line “Time is running out for us" sets the mood of the song, the song deals with the Heads of State meeting and not doing anything about the problems. The mumbling by Thom Yorke starts the song and he moves on to the chorus after the first line which I just spoke about, the chorus follows keeps the political mood going, then Thom keeps reinforcing the point of the chorus: “You make believe that you are still in charge", is the point Thom is trying to get across. The song ends with Thom singing “Oh, Oh, Oh" and the beat carries it through.
“Black Swan", is probably the most marketable song of the album. It defines the album pretty well, since it is Thom speaking up about what he thinks is wrong and what is “Messed Up" to edit it. Thom lyrical content in this song is the strongest it has been in the whole album. The chorus is pretty good with Thom shouting this is “This is Fed up", with the Ok Computer like “Oh’s" in the background. Thom has one of my favorite lines of the album when he says: “I don’t care what the future holds/ because I’m right here today/With your fingers you can touch me". A good song all in all, and will probably be the most successful of the album.
“Skip Divided", features one of the funkiest beats of the album, but it has never really done much for me. It features some catchy lines but really doesn’t make any sense at all, at the end the song Thom proclaims, “I am a dog" which really makes no sense at all. The chorus is all right but needs to be stressed more to make this song successful. A decent song, but it really has no significance as a song on this album.
The 6th track, “Atoms For Peace", is a decent track that carries on for to long. The song has no real rhythm changes at all, and the chorus lacks emotion. Thom vocals aren’t distorted which is a positive, but I really have no plans to listen to this song again. Thom makes a bold claim about how he wants to make some “Great", the song is pretty positive and upbeat for a song written by Thom Yorke, but again like the previous track it really doesn’t do anything for me, and it goes on for 5 minutes and 12 seconds.
“And It Rained All Night", is a brilliant track. Thom Yorke creates a spooky atmosphere with the beat at the begging and the song move on with that rhythm, and the lyrics perfectly fit the beat. The lyrics are about Thom staying up all night when it was raining in New York. Thom Yorke gets back to an emotional state of mine with the lyrics “I could see you/ but I could never reach you", the chorus is also very good because of the emotion put in the lyrics. The song goes on a bit of a techno solo until it comes back to Thom with the lyrics of the pre-chorus. All in all a well-done song, which gets the album back on track.
“Harrowdown Hill", is the best song on the album. It starts out with a punk-rock riff and contains the best lyrics on the album: “Did I fall or was I pushed?" The chorus is unbelievably good: “I am coming home to make it all right/ So dry your eyes/ We think the same things at the same time we just don’t do anything about it. No stoner, “Skip Divided" lyrics, the song gets straight to the point and it makes a beautiful point in the chorus. A great song, and it leads perfectly into the chorus.
“Cymbal Rush", starts out with one of the most techno like beats of the album. The song is not one of my favorites, but with every Radiohead closer it finds a way to preview what the next album is going to have, and if this works the same way with Thom Yorke albums it will be an intresting album for Thom Yorke. The song contains a good line in: “It’s all boiling over/ over and over" The song is better than the fifth and sixth tracks of the album, but it still doesn’t do a heck of a lot for me. A good song and nothing more.
Individual track ratings:
1. The Eraser 5/5
2. Analyse 4.5/5
3. The Clock 4/5
4. Black Swan 4.5/5
5. Skip Divided 3/5
6. Atoms For Peace 3/5
7. And It Rained All Night 5/5
8. Harrowdown Hill 5/5
9. Cymbal Rush 3.5/5
Thom Yorke has a short first album with some good songs and not some good songs. Overall it was an album thrown in with a bunch of ideas that Thom had. A decent album, but it was pretty good considering it was made in only a month. And there is always room for improvement.