With Hail To The Thief, many Radiohead fans would wonder what the band would do next? The band had redefined the genre so many times throughout their previous albums, ranging from Brit-Pop to Intelligent Techno.
But Hail To The Thief is the album were Radiohead mixes Techno with the Rock sound presented on their earlier albums. The sound can ether sound perfect like on songs such as "2+2=5 and "There There" or a little messy such as tracks like "The Gloaming and A Punch up At A Wedding".
Another controversy around the album was the title "Hail To The Thief", is a title suggesting that President Bush stole the 2000 election? Though the album comes on like that on the opener "2+2=5", with very political lyrics in the supporting lines, With lyrics such as "Sandbag and Hide", the band denies it saying it was about the 1888 election. The haunting breakdown, which I believe is were the band is trying to prove something especially for an album opener: "You Have Not Been Paying Attention", is the kind of scary line we last saw from Radiohead on "Climbing Up The Walls", on Ok Computer. With No Signs of Electronic being used this look like it will be a new kind of Radiohead experience.
But when Electronics are used they are not used well at all. In Radiohead's previous techno albums "Kid A and Amnesiac" the band worked there butt's off in there recording sounds to make sure the sound was absolutely perfect, In "Hail To The Thief", the electronics sound messy and don't fit Thom vocals well at all, on tracks such as "The Gloaming" the electronics are used to create a scary kind of feel and it works but it doesn't match Thom vocals as well.
But in the tracks were they blend the two genres of Rock and Techno together with patience, this album is definitely a classic. "There There", features some great lyrics which are perfectly matched with a jungle like drum beat and video. "2+2=5" sounds like a progressive rock-song where all the electric guitars are turned up and the song finishes smoothly with one of the best breakdowns Radiohead has ever had. "A Wolf At The Door", is pretty awesome because it shows meaningful lyrics and a cool and fast electronic beat to move along with it. It also features the best chorus besides "There There" on the album. "We Suck Young Blood", is as demanding as the opener with a beat change that will absolutely take your breath away and smooth lyrics sang to a clapping beat. Though it takes a while to grow on you, the track is definitely worth the wait.
But this album is not like Radiohead because there are to many fillers. People who say this isn't a collection of songs don't know the band. When a Radiohead album spans from about 5 genres in about one album, you know it's not album they spent two years in studio making, they had some of the songs ready before this album. "Go To Sleep and Where You End And I Begin", are both optimistic songs that sound like they could come off "The Bends", "Go To Sleep" has demanding lyrics with an acoustic feel and "Where You End And I Begin" has more of a scary feel with a powerful breakdown and it leads perfectly into "We Suck Young Blood".
Thom's lyrics are as scary and powerful as they have ever been. If they were more exposed on this album I think it would make for a more enjoyable experience, also if Jonny Greenwood had more of an involvement in the band playing electronics on this album during every track I think it would be a better album.
And some tracks try to hard to be great, "The Gloaming" try’s to give you the bug screeching scary feel that "Climbing Up The Walls" has, and it really doesn't have a distinct chorus or breakdown. "Sit Down, Stand Up", try’s to have an epic breakdown and it would have been achieved if it weren’t repeated constantly for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
And then some tracks don't try at all. "A Punchup At A Wedding" sounds like a laid-back version of "Life In A Glasshouse", and it doesn't work out good at all. "Scatterbrain" is a beautiful song with a great chorus, but the chorus is repeated only once or twice and really has no effect on the song at all.
When Radiohead takes there time and makes the sound mix with Thom's lyrics this album has the potential to be great. But unlike the other Radiohead albums this album doesn't do that successfully and it ends up being a mediocre album, at least from Radiohead.
Sail To The Moon
Go To Sleep
Where I End And You Begin
We Suck Young Blood
A Wolf At The Door
A Punchup At A Wedding
Sit Down, Stand Up
Mixing of Previous albums sound
Some songs are well produced
Some tracks are just fillers