|1. 2 + 2 = 5|
|2. Sit Down. Stand Up|
|3. Sail To The Moon|
|5. Go To Sleep|
|6. Where I End And You Begin|
|7. We Suck Young Blood|
|8. The Gloaming|
|9. There, There|
|10. I Will|
|11. A Punch Up At A Wedding|
|14. A Wolf At The Door|
To be honest, I loved OK Computer but was alienated by Kid A and didn't really get into Amnesiac for one reason or another. Hail To The Thief is without question more accessible than its two predecessors. But to say it's a step backwards or disappointing in any way is foolish.
Radiohead, the most popular innovative band on the planet, haven't broken any new ground here, as they did with Kid A. This album sees a return to simple song construction. Guitar, drums and keyboards form the backbone of these 14 indie pop songs.
"Go To Sleep" and "Where I End and You Begin" are fantastic. Driving guitars attack from all sides, demanding your attention, juddering with impressive force. Yorke's vocals are in fine form here; melancholic and hypnotic.
"A Punchup At A Wedding" is sublime. The song rolls effortlessly along taking the listener on a serene journey which also provides subtle amusement along the way: 'You had to piss on our parade, you had to shred our big day...in a drunken punch up at a wedding'.
There are still the wonderfully eerie sounds ("The Gloaming") and the computerised electronic bleeps ("Sit Down, Stand Up"). These songs provide evidence that Radiohead are still capable of producing ambitious music which is remarkably enjoyable.
Current single "There There" is number four in the charts and the album is about to set up residence at number 1. How do Radiohead maintain their position as the world's most successful, non-mainstream band? Is it because Thom Yorke rarely smiles? And doesn't have a celebrity girlfriend? I suspect it's because they make some of the most amazing, anthemic, inspiring music around today.
All Hail Radiohead. --Dan Tallis
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OK Computer, Radiohead’s zenith moment and worthy of all the acclaim it received arrived into our homes with meteoric effect. Astounded by its clear brilliance the world became besotted with the intelligent musicianship of the Oxford collective. Ok Computer’s impact was clearly massive - the crater it created is something than any band would struggle to claw itself out of. The testing but worthwhile Kid A and the even less accessible Amnesiac were clear reactions of a band fearful of plummeting from their self-made position of apogee.
Both Kid A and Amnesiac were careful (and fitfully beautiful) treads in the direction of Hail To The Thief which dutifully avoids the stickier protracted attempts at computer experimentation that beset the two aforementioned albums and puts an emphasis on the band’s supreme song-writing skills and moreover, the enchanting and often haunting voice of Thom Yorke.
Gone will be all those ill-informed Aphex Twin comparisons given the much heavier use of guitars (’Where I End & You Begin’, ’2+2 = 5’, ‘There There‘) than on the last two albums but that isn’t to say that it pays homage in any big way to Radiohead’s breakthrough album The Bends. No, Radiohead are certainly not about to regress and they certainly are in no mood to play the old rock trick of ‘going back to what you know best’. As an exposition of the band themselves, Hail To The Thief is a clear indication that Radiohead are comfortable with where they are now - making symphonic sounds that pierce your soul and endure until the songs themselves become irremovable fixtures in your mind. Radiohead are clearly not interested in the idle fancies of ordinary pop musicians and money-sucking uber-producers yet it is the challenging and brutal yet beautifully melancholic nature of this band and this album that allows tracks to outlive the 3 minute perfection of radio-friendly post-pop.
Whilst eclipsing previous achievements may be an impossible task Radiohead are still gaining plenty from the album-making process and as a result Hail To the Thief has a very polished feel. The vocals of Yorke are beautifully harmonized like never before(’Sail To The Moon‘, ‘I Will‘), the electrical wizardry is measured (’The Gloaming‘) and the pace of the album is carefully programmed so that its shocks then lulls you in emotionally. With your breath taken you are left in a state of truly satisfied reverie.
An astonishing album by an extraordinary band.
After Kid A and Amnesiac, the Oxford-based five-piece still haven't fulfilled their plan. Quite a lot of people still expect them to come up with a new Ok Computer or The Bends, and if you think you're one of those people you will get quite excited when hearing the opening track from their latest work, Hail To The Thief. 2+2=5 features the band in full three guitar layout, climaxes in true Paranoid Android style. It also sets the theme for the rest of the album: living in a messed up post 9/11, post Iraq war world, how one man's decision can affect thousands of others, and how we are constantly watched and controlled from above. This glimpse of a mid-90s Radiohead is followed by piano over techno beats on Sit Down, Stand Up, a song that finishes in an energetic electro ending. By then it is already clear that on this album the band have chosen for a combination of traditional rock tunes such as There There, Go To Sleep and the opening track, and their 21st century experimental electronics, ranging from drum machines and bass effects on The Gloaming to dirty keyboards on Myxomatosis. This results in a fantastic album full of gems, the only exceptions being We Suck Young Blood and Punchup At A Wedding. These two tracks would have looked ok as b-sides, but look quite out of place on this recording. The album concludes with A Wolf At The Door, a song that shares it's theme with No Surprises, and with a chorus that looks like it's come straight off the sublime Ok Computer.
The only reason why this doesn't get a five star rating is that it might not be suitable for everyone: don't buy this if you're a Bends addict.
My favourite tracks from 'Hail To The Thief' are the very boundaries of the album. Track 01, '2+2=5' and the closing tracks of the album 'Scatterbrain'
and 'A Wolf at the Door'. How does this album compare to their previous ones? Well, it's not quite anything like 'Kid A', but on the other hand it's nothing like 'The Bends' either. Most probably, it's somewhere in between. Some critics have said that Radiohead are completely mixed up and that they have completely lost their direction. Perhaps these critics are right, but the result is still top notch quality.
I miss the old Radiohead, I really do. 'OK Computer' and 'The Bends' have earned them a place in Rock History. However, this album which is a clear cut better than 'Amnesiac', still deserves to be bought.
This album is definitely not their career's bet, but for me, its still thumbs up for Radiohead's number 6 studio album. Hail To Radiohead!.
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