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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Radiohead outside but one foot inside

Latest NewsRadiohead outside but one foot inside

Radiohead are about to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary, and it’s funny that a band with such a rich history maintains such an excellent reputation. It won’t happen because they didn’t try to demolish them. They bombarded them with accusations. Musically, say their detractors, they are self-indulgent and tedious. Officially, they are plagiarists because they were forced to include the writers of “Creep”, the Generation X anthem, the composers of “The Air That I Breathe”, a 1973 song by The Hollies that seemed to be their big success. seems like too much. When they are spoken of as environmentally committed artists, they are called hypocrites because they travel the world on huge, polluting tours. Politically, their censors note, they are progressive elitist supporters. Not to mention that for supporting the Dalai Lama, they say they are in favor of a “theocratic regime” in Tibet.

However, there is no way to bring down his prestige. Not to mention the fact that its leader, until recently the elusive Thom Yorke, after marrying the Italian actress Dahana Ronchone, began to appear in the pink press and tarnished the painstakingly acquired reputation.

Their achievements are easy to sum up: they are outstanding musicians, the authors of almost a dozen albums, the number of which continues to grow over time. Critics are well aware of this: Radiohead was a pioneer in this trend of releasing albums without warning and were forced to write quick reviews of their work. And it’s hard to tell from just listening to albums that if there’s one thing that needs to be digested properly, it’s time. Over the years, more than one person regretted that he could not appreciate them in due measure. Or so we heard.

While we’re used to treacherously releasing albums that could have a new album out next week, the fact is that there hasn’t been a new Radiohead release for six years. This is the longest break in his entire career. The time they have devoted to reissuing their old albums, sometimes in overly luxurious formats, and countless side projects. To be fair, in 2022, Radiohead is more like a septet than a quintet. To its five original members, a line-up that has remained the same since the beginning (another colossal achievement), we must add producer Nigel Godrich, who has worked on all of their albums, and artist Stanley Donwood, their covers and designs. . . .

With the exception of bassist Colin Greenwood, all of them have done enough solo work over the past two decades to be considered careers in their own right. Guitarist Ed O’Brien released Earth in 2020, which was arguably the least connected to the Radiohead sound of anything the band members have done so far. Drummer Phil Selway released two: Familial (2010), in which he was a classical acoustic singer-songwriter, and Weatherhouse (2014), wholly owned by Radiohead. The two were among the first to work outside the band on 7 Worlds Collide, a project spearheaded by Neil Finn (Crowded House). But in reality it was a charity event for Finn, in which he was supported by luxurious friends (Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr or Lisa Germano also participated).

For Yorke, recording Radiohead is a difficult and painful task. Everything else is painless fun.

Guitarist Jonny Greenwood writes the article himself, but it can be summed up by saying that he is now a renowned soundtrack composer. His Oscar nomination for Dog Power made him one of the most coveted films of the moment. And someone who doesn’t stop either is Thom Yorke, who has always considered what he did outside of Radiohead to be entertainment. Recording the band’s albums, as he repeatedly said, is a difficult and sometimes painful task, but what remains is painless entertainment. Yorke has released three solo albums, to which should be added the Suspiria soundtrack and his album Atoms for Peace, a quartet he co-founded with Flea of ​​the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The novelty of The Smile, which has just published Attention Light, is that it is a trio of Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke who have hired Tom Skinner, one of the two drummers for Sons of Kemet. performed by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, one of the undisputed stars of the British jazz scene.

The Smile’s is an album ruled by Yorke’s personality, and which, like almost everything he does solo, eventually crosses over with Radiohead to the point where it seems like any song could appear on a parent band album, and vice versa. . When they announced their first song “You’ll Never Work in Television Again”, it was believed that they were going to release a post-punk album with more guitar and more distortion, as if they were back to their beginnings as an indie band, slave six strings. Well no. Later, “Pana-vision” will appear, released in the last chapter of the Peaky Blinders series. Creepy and atmospheric, the song has one foot on the Greenwood soundtracks and the other on A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead’s latest album. “The Smoke” and “The Opposite” are more jazzy but seem to be taken from Kid A (2001). “Speech Bubbles” could be borrowed from OK Computer (1997) and “Freedom in Knowledge” from Bends (1995).

We could continue to associate each of the 17 songs with some part of Radiohead’s discography. Including because these guys do not throw anything away. Several songs, “Skirting On the Surface” and “Open the Floodgates”, were even played at some of the band’s shows. Although the latter was played by Thom Yorke alone on the piano, here it is surrounded by electronic arrangements that seem to bear Greenwood’s signature.

This is bad? Just for those who expected The Smile to sound different than Radiohead, something that borders on the miraculous if Yorke’s solo work is known, and even more so considering that The Smile includes two main composers of the original formation which were produced by Godrich and the art is signed by Donwood. For fans who miss new releases, this is more than worthy entertainment to kill cravings. Yes, there are many guitars, but there are so many effects applied to them that they could be keyboards, and electronics are everywhere. It’s sort of a free buffet with a slightly more jazzy drummer thrown in. Which, after all, is not bad either.

Light to attract attention

Recordings XL / PopStock!

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