The Smile
A Light For Attracting Attention


4.3
superb

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
May 13th, 2022 | 203 replies


Release Date: 05/13/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Turn that frown upside down

Cryptically-named The Smile are a side project composed of three musicians: Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, and Tom Skinner. The first two are (of course) famous members of Radiohead, while the third is most-recognized as part of Sons Of Kemet. A Light For Attracting Attention is The Smile’s first LP, and it’s a wildly impressive opening statement, although its very nature will prompt a fair amount of discussion.

What do I mean by that? Well, this album is extremely late-era Radiohead in style. In fact, it feels like the “separated at birth” twin of 2016’s A Moon-Shaped Pool, with lesser influences from every album since Kid A. The main ways in which The Smile distinguish themselves are through occasional nods to jazz (perhaps reflecting the influence of Skinner’s background) and a few songs which mix up the formula (notably the weird punkishness of “You Will Never Work In Television Again” and the stunning Britpop-meets-folk of “Free In The Knowledge”).

The overwhelming sense of “Radiohead-ness” aside, this is just a fantastic album. It simultaneously manages to be abstract and warm, paranoid and comforting. The vaguely maritime feel of the album artwork proves suitable, with the dreamy pull of the music rocking the listener gently like ocean waves. Thom Yorke’s vocals are in fine form here, slidely gracefully over smooth fusions of electronic and art rock elements. A Light For Attracting Attention is also expertly balanced. The album’s nearly fifty-four minute runtime could feel excessive, given the mostly slow-paced, atmospheric nature of the music, but the tracklist is arranged carefully to allow for perfectly-timed jolts of energy, never allowing the record’s sleepiness to reach the point of boredom.

Mid-album tune “Speech Bubbles” is the perfect microcosm of this album’s essence. It’s a reserved little song, and, to these ears, perfectly suited to be included on A Moon-Shaped Pool. To be clear, though, that’s not a critique. “Speech Bubbles”, and indeed most of the other songs of its ilk on A Light For Attracting Attention are not to be slated as b-sides for a Radiohead album from six years ago: they’re every bit as good as the bulk of said release’s tracklist. All this is to say that The Smile’s debut probably won’t be very appealing if you don’t enjoy late-era Radiohead (although, if so, please check your ears, BOOM, roasted!). However, for the masses who do, this record will prove quite a godsend. A delicately-crafted work fusing experimentalism and sheer sonic beauty, A Light For Attracting Attention stands proudly on its own merits as a top-tier piece of art rock, connections to a certain critically and publicly acclaimed band aside.



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user ratings (135)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Quick writeup for an album that's blowing me away at the moment.



Probably too much Radiohead talk, but maybe unavoidable given the context.

parksungjoon
May 13th 2022


42923 Comments


>All this is to say that The Smile’s debut probably won’t be very appealing if you don’t enjoy late-era Radiohead


which one

cuz tkol > amogus

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

@Park, this is more A Moon Shaped Pool than King Of Limbs, but there's at least a little influence from all mid-to-late Radiohead albums, I'd say

TalonsOfFire
Emeritus
May 13th 2022


20085 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review. I think the Radiohead talk is warranted since this is probably the closest thing to a new Radiohead album we'll get any time soon, and kinda sounds like a sequel to HTTT.

I love Speech Bubbles, The Smoke, Open the Floodgates, Free in the Knowledge, and Skrting on the Surface the most on first listen.

Digging: The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention

parksungjoon
May 13th 2022


42923 Comments


>and kinda sounds like a sequel to HTTT.

neat!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 13th 2022


68764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listening to this now, the opposite must have about 7000 guitars on it my god

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 13th 2022


68764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love how The Same does nothing for 4 minutes and then just ends like fuck you too I guess

parksungjoon
May 13th 2022


42923 Comments


hell yea i love john cage

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 13th 2022


68764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Is this somehow worse than amsp

Demon of the Fall
May 13th 2022


24591 Comments


I was unsure on this at first but admittedly The Smoke, Thin Thing + Free In The Knowledge are pretty good

I’m really struggling with the first few tracks though.

Was maybe hoping for something more ‘out there’ idk, felt too safe and like a bunch of Radiohead-like ideas we’ve heard before. The dude from Sons of Kemet being on this meant I was expecting some jazziness but I doubt he actually had much input here, lol

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

Gyromania
May 13th 2022


34461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm on the 7th song and this is boring af so far

Demon of the Fall
May 13th 2022


24591 Comments


It is very very safe even if Thom’s voice carries some of it… but yeah this isn’t what I was hoping to sign up for.

These things have grown on me before but I think it might just be a mixed bag (4 full spins in).

TalonsOfFire
Emeritus
May 13th 2022


20085 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The first three, Hair Dryer, and Tmrw Brings are bottom 5 I'm thinking. Middle run of songs is fantastic.

ArsMoriendi
May 13th 2022


36917 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I honestly don't want to listen to this



Should I anyway? I didn't even like The Smoke when I checked it

Digging: Os Mutantes - Jardim Eltrico

parksungjoon
May 13th 2022


42923 Comments


https://www.sputnikmusic.com/uservote.php?memberid=1256342

Demon of the Fall
May 13th 2022


24591 Comments


The first 3 are easily the worst part of the album so far, hoping it’s clouding my judgement because there might actually be something in the rest.

So odd having an album so shockingly middle / back-loaded to this extent.



JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3

this is better than AMSP but probably not by much



sounds more like a forgotten midway baby between HTTT and IR than that album's mystical git sister or whatever



*boring indie people talking intensifies*



*guitar*

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 13th 2022


68764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

*guitar*



Ugh don’t get me started



Between this and amsp im starting to think Johnny greensandwich or whatever is responsible for all of radioheads worst ideas

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3

you mean the man who single handedly invented krautrock 21st century babychin?



what rating should i give this should it be bnm

parksungjoon
May 13th 2022


42923 Comments


isnt that tortoise



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