Thom Yorke
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes


2.5
average

Review

by Benjamin Kuettel STAFF
October 2nd, 2014 | 24 replies


Release Date: 09/26/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thom Yorke’s reach exceeds his grasp.

Among news of a new Radiohead album after almost four years, the sudden release of a solo album by lead singer Thom Yorke is a strange move, though not especially surprising. The Radiohead frontman has maintained an enigmatic public image, though his artistic expression is rarely vague. His preferred musical style is made apparent on 2006’s The Eraser, which not surprisingly echoed many aspects of Radiohead’s more experimental releases. While normally an asset, in this case it shows a disappointing lack of variety or diversity. His debut was a downtempo electronic affair sadly lacking in the rest of Radiohead’s contributions, and Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes suffers from the same noticeable absence. Greenwood and O’Brien have always had the uncanny ability to elevate most songs in one way or another, with as little as a simple creative flourish. Yorke possesses the same potential, though he remains stubbornly committed to a very singular and monotonous vision. Repetitive, dismal electronics and repetitive beats throughout …Boxes lack the intrigue of what could have been.

The Eraser was released eight years ago, and while the main ideas present haven’t changed, almost everything else has. The general sound of …Boxes can best be described as a more subtle and minimalist version of Radiohead’s The King of Limbs. The atmosphere is surprisingly similar, and Yorke seems to have dipped into Radiohead outings Amnesiac (2001) and Hail to the Thief (2003) for inspiration. Unfortunately, the bulk of …Boxes more closely resembles their filler than it does the musical highs. An absence of hooks or catchy melodies is a bold decision for an artist to make when crafting an album, and it should contain some strong material to warrant such creative decisions. Yorke’s latest unfortunately does not hold up in that regard, with an absence of memorable moments and lack of standouts being the main detractors of the surprise release that could have had the potential to wow his loyal audience.

Mildly intriguing uses of instrumentation, as well as programming techniques throughout the album do not develop as much as they should. “Pink Section” and “Interference” each contain interesting ideas, but simply aren’t as interesting as they should be. Along with these missed opportunities, a mind-boggling track ordering decision further mars what could have been. The two most repetitive songs are right next to each other; “Truth Ray” and “There Is No Ice (For My Drink)” begin the second half of …Boxes by killing whatever momentum had been built up thus far. Both are different enough from one another, but each plod along in similar bleeps and bloops as Radiohead’s most experimental and inaccessible interludes. If their compositions had been further developed, they could have had the potential to blossom into the gratifying weirdness that Yorke seems to be aiming for, but what the execution presents us with just isn’t enough.

For all of its faults though, …Boxes features a variety of mildly interesting ideas throughout the short run time. “Nose Grows Some” is probably the most emotive song of Yorke’s solo material, bringing to mind Radiohead’s eeriest moments. “A Brain In A Bottle” and the “The Mother Lode” also possess enough mysterious and engaging moments to warrant checking out. Much of the run time overall is devoted to hypnotic melodies over impressive displays of Yorke’s vocal range, including soaring falsettos, and thus responsible for the more rewarding moments. However this simply isn’t enough, and the almost nonexistent evolution serves as a reminder that there is still plenty for Yorke to cover in his musical future beyond the repetitive beats and droning electronics seen here. While Yorke’s vision remains as clear as ever, his execution leaves a lot to be desired. What results is mildly intriguing but mostly underwhelming, leaving the listener lost in a confusing sea of murky, fuzzy atmospheres. Substance is present in album highlights, but there is not enough to redeem the duller moments that pervade much of the content within …Boxes.



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Thom Yorke just barely avoids "What the hell am I doing here?" status as he attempts to enter the mo...



Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Constructive criticism welcome as always.

Digging: Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

NorthernSkylark
October 2nd 2014


8809 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

are you aware of the discrepancy?



edit: now you are.

Digging: Leon Vynehall - Nothing Is Still

ZackSh33
October 2nd 2014


678 Comments


I'm not sure why you're being negged - I'll give ya a pos, there are a few clunky passages but overall a solid read

Had no interest in listening to this before, still will not listen to it now

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm guessing it must be trolls since my approval rating didn't change at all after one neg. I've also edited this since

posting, it should read better now.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


6667 Comments


(edit: fixed)
good review, could be tidied up a bit




TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Most of that was subtle grammar stuff that ended up changing what I had meant to say, I didn't even notice so thanks for pointing those out, fixed.

VaxXi
October 2nd 2014


4354 Comments


I hope that the new Radiohead album isnt anything similar to this album or AMOK. last thing I need is to have three different groups all share "Thom Yorke's Solo Career" name.

VaxXi
October 2nd 2014


4354 Comments


Jokes on them, if I just hog all my unfinished reviews to myself and never publish them then I cant get neg'd AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH-ohgoshIamsouselesswhenitcomestowritingthisshitsomeonepleasehelpme

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


6667 Comments


PS - apparently it's "Jonny Greenwood", no H

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for the catch, fixed. Also the negs are going away, I had suspected they were trolls

Storm In A Teacup
October 3rd 2014


23578 Comments


I still remember buying The Eraser the week it came out and not enjoying it at all.

clercqie
October 3rd 2014


6522 Comments


I got a very Hail To The Thief-esque vibe from this as well. Good call.

ChoccyPhilly
October 3rd 2014


11765 Comments


I'm not sure why you're being negged - I'll give ya a pos, there are a few clunky passages but overall a solid read

Had no interest in listening to this before, still will not listen to it now


Basically what i was going to write

Digging: Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

dcalderon
October 3rd 2014


435 Comments


This release made me revisit Eraser and I'm glad, it's miles better than this and much more enjoyable that I remembered.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 3rd 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Eraser is indeed better than this, I mean it does have Rained.

osmark86
October 3rd 2014


6650 Comments


average ey? I'll see what I think after giving this a few goes. Thom Yorke is a great musician after all.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Singularity

dcalderon
October 9th 2014


435 Comments


At least The Eraser has some great songs like t/t and rain, everything on here is either solid or mediocre.

You see, that's the thing. I don't even find The Eraser as two great songs and filler; it's actually a very solid electronic albums that many high profile DJs found great (Dixon comes to mind), which makes this last release feel much more dissapointing.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2014


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I realized this wasn't my best, so I heavily edited the review and moved a lot of things around. This should read better now.

Nocturnalize
January 30th 2015


2463 Comments


This is definitely one of the better juggernaut reviews well done hope you make staff m8

iamamanfromspace
January 30th 2015


1030 Comments


Guess Again! and The Mother Lode are so gooood, especially the latter



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