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Artist: Radiohead
Album: Hail To The Thief
Label: Capitol
Release: 2003

Web: Official Site

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Reviewing a Radiohead record is no simple task, so I've let their latest sink into my mind over the Summer. Here's my take:

It is impossible to deny Radiohead's impact on the music world. After releasing their holy trilogy (The Bends, Ok Computer, Kid A), the band released Amnesiac, a set of reworked out-takes from the Kid A sessions. Amnesiac had some brilliant songs, but it was definitely a flawed record. Fans were left for the next two years to wonder what the band would unleash next.

Hail To The Thief is upon us, and the result, just like Amnesiac, is mixed. "2+2=5" begins the album, and is definitely a throw back to The Bends & Ok Computer. Great opener. "Sit Down, Stand Up" is an interesting listen, but it's too lengthy, and the sci-fi sounds at the end are a bit much.

"Sail To The Moon" is a beautiful song, but it feels overproduced and dry. Thom's lyrics feel really uninspired for the majority of this record, which is shocking because most of his past writing has been so damn good. "Backdrifts" is dreamy, spaced out, and impressive.

The album version of "Go To Sleep" is inferior to its live version, which features Jonny Greenwood freaking out on his guitar as the song fades out. "Where You End & I Begin" has a great riff, and is one of the album's best songs. Thom sounds quite scary in this one, as he repeats "I will eat you alive" over and over.

"We Suck Young Blood" is pretty boring, and never did anything for me. "The Gloaming" is awesome, and sounds even cooler live, as a lot of these songs do. "There There" is one of the best things the band has ever done, and is probably the best song on here. It takes a few listens to sink in, but it such a perfect little rock song. The buildup is tremendous.

"I Will" is a gorgeous interlude. If only it could be longer. "A Punchup At A Wedding" is pretty catchy, and "funked out" if I may say. "Myxomatosis" features some amazing bass work, and while it is completely nonsensical (as most of Thom's lyrics on this record are), is still a decent song.

"Scatterbrain" is another one of the album's best songs, and would have fit in perfectly on Ok Computer. Thom's vocals sound magnificent. Hearing Thom rap in "A Wolf At The Door" is amusing, but it is a pretty poor closer. It's a silly song, and while I enjoy it, it just doesn't work as an end track.

It seems like Radiohead tried to please too many people with this one. Hail To The Thief is basically a Radiohead mix tape in my eyes, blending a lot of different styles from their past albums. If I wanted a Radiohead mix tape, I'd make one, and it would be better than this. I wasn't expecting them to top Ok Computer or Kid A (both masterpieces, and The Bends is a hell of a record as well), but I expected a bit more than this.

They are amazing musicians, and they sound tight as hell (especially live), but they just sound so uninspired here. I don't think they are out of ideas. Maybe they have too many ideas. Regardless, Hail To The Thieft makes it look like they have no idea where they want to go. I sure hope they find themselves next time.

~Huey (9/30/03)

2003 - Please contact me before using anything found on this site.