Hail To The Thief


Format: CD
Catalog: 84543
Genre: Rock/Pop
Rel. Date: 06/10/2003
UPC: 724358454321

Hail To The Thief
Artist: Radiohead
Format: CD
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''Hail to the Thief'' is the sixth studio album by English alternative rock band Radiohead, released on 9 June 2003. It debuted at number one in the United Kingdom and at number three in the United States, where it sold a greater number of copies in its first week than any of Radiohead's albums to date. The album's singles were "There There", "Go to Sleep" and "2 + 2 = 5".

After two Radiohead albums that featured heavily processed vocals, less guitar, and strong influence from experimental electronica and jazz, ''Hail to the Thief'' was seen as a slight return to the band's older alternative rock influences, drawing its sound from every era of the band's existence. Recorded relatively quickly in Los Angeles, the album was described by band members as an attempt to find a more "swaggering" sound and a relaxed recording process, in contrast to their tense sessions for ''Kid A'' and ''Amnesiac'' several years earlier.

At nearly an hour in length, ''Hail to the Thief'' is the band's longest album, although many of its songs are within the three minute range, shorter than the band's average. Thom Yorke said he was inspired by Beatles songs of that length. Yorke said his songwriting on the album had been much affected by current events, but he denied having a strictly political intent. ''Hail to the Thief'' largely received positive reviews. This album has been released with the Copy Control protection system in some regions. - Wikipedia

Radiohead proved unequivocally that they could push buttons/ change gears/ goelectronic on the twin killings Kid A and Amnesiac, but what's a boundary pushingband to do for an encore? Judging from the pointed-as-a-stick title Hail tothe Thief, the answer is that Thom Yorke and company will mount the metaphoricalpodium and follow their musical revolution with a political one.

A quick listen to Thief reveals this to be the case: there's a funeral dirge,enough agitation to fuel an antiwar rally and a vague sense of unease, as ifRadiohead penned most of the songs just after reading the gloomy front sectionof the Times. And for once, repeated listenings to a Radiohead album fail toslowly uncover the hidden beauty lying underneath, or whatever critical claptrapusually gets thrown around whenever the World's Most Challenging Band decidesto deliver a new musical sermon.

The descending guitar notes that open Thief, in the terse "2+2=5,"signal that Radiohead has fetched the six-strings from the back of the closet,while the lyrics suggest that thinking-man Yorke's thoughts have turned awayfrom the futurism of much of their output since OK Computer. It almost seemsunthinkable that a band so steeped in abstraction would revolve a song cyclearound a world leader, especially one as two-dimensional as the apparent target,President Bush. Whether or not they did in fact take their inspiration fromthe headlines and Washington's backroom dealings is beside the point. Ultimately,the thief motif becomes more a distraction than a cohesive statement.

This is still Radiohead, of course, and when the band sets out to constructa song, they have the ability to transcend into symphonic realms that put themin the rarefied company of the Beatles and Pink Floyd. By adding glitchy electronicsto their repertoire, Yorke, the brothers Greenwood et al. have even opened upnew vistas. The icy "Backdrifts" combines an enrapturing cadre ofmechanical beats, and Yorke's apolitical tale of romantic infidelity clearlydisplays why Radiohead work better as sociological observers than as critics.The guitar, bass and piano-generated groove behind "A Punchup at a Wedding"seconds the motion; it's a masterful song that instantly rises to the top tierof Radiohead's catalog, even subtly reprising the feedback scrunches from theband's debut hit "Creep" amid a heart-melting melodic flow and Yorke'smost impassioned vocals.

Too often on Thief, however, the melodies take ungainly turns in overt mood-shiftingploys, as in the otherwise intriguing song "Where I End and You Begin."It's one thing to try to deliver a message and another to make convincing, timelessart. Radiohead have proved time and again that they're capable of the latter,and they do so again throughout their latest album, but unfortunately withoutthe musical conviction to remain consistent.