"Dont call it solo," says Thom Yorke of The Eraser
, "It doesnt sound right". Here, then, is the first hmm, lets say one-man record from the vocalist of Radiohead, an excursion in electronic beats and synthetic textures hailed by many critics as a return to Radioheads 2000 album, Kid A
. Strictly speaking, though, hes right its not solo: produced and "arranged" by long-time Head producer Nigel Godrich, featuring processed sounds taken from full-band sessions, and featuring at least one song originally mooted for appearance on Hail To The Thief
, it appears as much an opportunity for Thom to build on the ideas not fully realised on full-band releases. Rock fans may lament Radioheads shifts away from guitar, bass and drums, but its hard to deny just how well Thoms voice fits amid the hissy cymbals and spectral synthesiser of The Eraser and Black Swan. Guitar surfaces on the haunting The Clock, Thom singing "You throw coins in the wishing well" over warped, droning folk, while album highlight Harrowdown Hill strikes a rare explicitly political note for Thom, a track themed around the death of UN Weapons Inspector David Kelly. --Louis Pattison
Denied its status as a solo album (in case we worry that Radiohead may be splitting), The Eraser, concocted with the aid of regular producer Nigel Godrich, is surprisingly pretty in places. The nine songs here are, predictably, not the happiest tunes you'll hear this year. But despite doomy subject matter such as global warming ("The Clock", "It Rained All Night") and the death of Dr David Kelly ("Harrowdown Hill") there are some stunning moments of stark beauty.
Using some material written for previous Radiohead albums (as well as heavily-processed fragments of them playing), Yorke has constructed a collection that swims in post-industrial synthesizers and itchy electronica, but highlights his voice as a focus of warm, naked emotion. It can be a draining, emotionally raw ride, but strangely life-affirming. Let's face it - we need more Thom Yorke's in this world. --Chris Jones
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