Thom Yorke has been a vital part of pop music for the last decade and a half. Fronting the almighty Radiohead, Yorke has found success and admiration, with critics and music fans alike. Albums such as Ok Computer and Kid A, often being hailed as classics. Yorke has also gained a level of respect for both his mysterious voice and obscure lyrics. However, with such a difference of musical genres from album to album with Radiohead, one may get the sense he is looking for new ways of expressing himself. Yorke appearing to break the confines of his previous band, signed with a indie lable XL Recordings, and began work on his solo debut. News of Yorkes solo work began shortly after, questions began was this the end of Radiohead? Yorke and the rest of the members were quick to dismiss these rumors though, putting some ease to fans. However with all of this, anticipation grew. Taking only a month to write and record, The Eraser was released on July 11, 2006 in North America.
The album opener is its title track, and well, the album has a lot to make up for this weak track. The Eraser is based on piano cords, Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood created months earlier. Yorke recorded them, and sampled them for this track. The lyrics and odd sound to this song just do not fit, and make it awkward sounding. Cymbal Rush is said to come from Try To Save Your Prize, a track from The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth Of All Time. This nonetheless is another track that comes off as boring and bland. Some of the albums weaker lyrical content, and over a flat electronic beat at that. Yorke seems uninspired, and just as bored as the track appears. I started this review with the albums two weakest tracks, and its only weak tracks. These two songs could not be further away from each other though, seeing how Cymbal Rush is the albums closer. Fans rejoice, it only goes up from these two black sheep.
So, with the negatively out of they way, lets move on to the albums two finer songs. Black Swan is easily the best track on the album. Sounds like it could be on Kid A, which of course is very high praise, as any Radiohead fan would know. A beautify melody, over the best uses of the genre’s name on the album. Yorke returns to what fans know he is capable of, a great pop tune done his way. Harrowdown Hill is the other classic Yorke song on the album. Sounding more like a Ok Computer song then anything else. Yorke uses a great beat that fits perfectly with the lyrics used. Also Yorkes vocal performance raises the bar for the entire album. Thom has said he wanted his voice more low key on this album, but producer Nigel Godrich simply would not let that happen, telling Yorke to make it front and center on the album, and without that, these two songs would not be as good as they became. Stunning on every listen, any music fan could enjoy these two tracks.
Atoms For Peace, Skip Divided, and The Clock are unlike anything I have heard by Yorke or Radiohead in general. He often mumbles along also, which adds to the overall feel of the tracks. Ambience in terms of beats and instruments are used along with Yorke’s haunting vocal performance to make these three tracks stand out. However, Radiohead’s other memebers are most missed on these three songs. You find yourself waiting for a guitar or bass to kick in, and sadly it never happens. At the end of each listen, you just think of what these songs could have been if the Name on the cover was Radiohead, rather then Thom York. Do not let this fool you though, these some of the albums stronger tracks, and convey Yorks immense talent. Analyse is another perfect example of this. Slow but steady verses, fit in with an intense beat that add to the album enormously. A sensation driven alt rock tune, Analyse doesn’t easily fit in with Yorks past work, but this doesn’t seem to matter, this song drags you in and will not let you go. And It Rained All Night much like Analyse, does not fit easily with anything Radiohead has done in my opinion. Not the best beat Yorke could have used, but his vocals save this song. The best lyrics on the album, over top Yorks seemingly perfect vocals make for a great track.
Thom Yorkes 2006 solo debut, is a strong album based in simplicity. Yorke returns with a trademark vocal performance, and great lyrical content to match. Thought the band is missed at a few points throughout, the over all feel make up for that. This album keeps growing on me, and I recommend this to any Radiohead fan, or any music fan in general. This is not as good as Kid A, or 2003's Hail To The Thief for that matter, but good nevertheless.
- Yorkes Vocals are near perfect.
- Intense beats add to the overall feel of the album.
- Lyrics are on par with past work.
- Band is missed at times.
- Some songs are bland and boring.
- Black Swan
- Rained All Night
- Harrowdown Hill