Radiohead – Hail To The thief

Hail To The TheifIt seems funny looking back how picked apart Radiohead’s 6th album was; 10 years since their debut the group had surged from being alt. rock nearlys’ to the “best band in the world”. Then they appeared to commit commercial suicide with the brave and expeirimental Kid A and Amnesiac, released just a year apart from each other. A live album followed and then rumours of Radiohead plugging the guitars back in and promising the sound of old. Is it strange that a return to the band’s rock roots is what we all wanted? Nonetheless, despite the clicking sound of a guitar lead being plugged into an amp, Hail To The Theif continues Kid A’s experimental vibe but somehow manages to convey a frantic live feel that the band’s two previous album’s lacked.

Whereas Kid A and Amnesiac often forsaked the traditional song formula, in exchange for texture and dynamics, Hail To The Theif manages to combine both. “2+2=5” is a pulsating burst of almost punk-like energy that jolts to a sudden stop. “Sail To The Moon” sounds like a smokey, nocturnal dream, whereas the skittering electronic pulse gives way to a motorised beat that is hard to ignore. Indeed the electronic drone feeling of the earlier tracks continues all the way through the album, excluding the booming “There, There” and the wry “A Wolf At The Door”.

There’s only one problem with Hail To The Theif; it’s too long. Songs like “Go To Sleep”, “I Will” and “We Suck Young Blood” don’t really offer anything new and don’t seem to have any momentum. Take these three tracks off and you’ve got a trim and tight 11 track, 45 minute album. However, the brilliant “Where I End And You Begin” more than makes up those track’s failings, with it’s swooning synth atmosphere and it’s crunchy guitars. Hail To The Theif lags towards the end slightly, but I’ve been surprised as to how good the songs still sound today. Half the tracks here could easily be some of the band’s best in my opinion and the rest is solidly put together. Maybe Hail To The Theif lacks some of In Rainbow’s conhesion and light touch, but that’s no bad thing. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation as “the album Radiohead should have given away for free”.

Radiohead – There There:

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