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Hail to the Thief
     

Hail to the Thief

4.5 44
by Radiohead
 

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Since the release of 1997's OK Computer, Radiohead have grown consistently more adventurous -- and, in some ways, consistently more obscure. Hail to the Thief, which was initially described as something of a return to the song-based dynamic of the band's earlier work, is anything but; it is, however, another fascinating turn

Overview

Since the release of 1997's OK Computer, Radiohead have grown consistently more adventurous -- and, in some ways, consistently more obscure. Hail to the Thief, which was initially described as something of a return to the song-based dynamic of the band's earlier work, is anything but; it is, however, another fascinating turn on the long and winding road that Thom Yorke and company are staking out. The jarring tone of the thrashing "2 + 2 = 5" seems to indicate that a heavy rock mood is in store, but that supposition is set aside by densely layered electronic tracks, such as the 9-11 meditation "The Gloaming" and "Backdrifts," an ambient piece that swirls like the more elegiac end of Spiritualized. Yorke has grown more confident about standing -- figuratively speaking, of course -- naked before his audience, and Hail has its share of stripped-bare moments, the best of which might be "Sail to the Moon," a piano-laced ballad that threatens to drift into the ether. Yorke is equally revelatory on "I Will," a fretful wisp of a song that hints at a fear of impending apocalypse. His mates don't exactly slough off, of course: Jonny Greenwood's guitar elevates the surprisingly warm "Scatterbrain," while his bass-slinging brother Colin takes the reins on the fuzzy, enveloping "Myxomatosis." While not as whiplash-inducing in its innovation as some of Radiohead's albums, Hail to the Thief is richly textured and whip-smart enough to keep fans bowing in awe.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
Radiohead's admittedly assumed dilemma: how to push things forward using just the right amounts of the old and the older in order to please both sides of the divide? Taking advantage of their longest running time to date, enough space is provided to quench the thirsts of resolute Bends devotees without losing the adventurous drive or experimentation that eventually got the group into hot water with many of those same listeners. Guitars churn and chime and sound like guitars more often than not; drums are more likely to be played by a human; and discernible verses are more frequently trailed by discernible choruses. So, whether or not the group is to be considered "back," there is a certain return to relatively traditional songcraft. Had the opening "2 + 2 = 5" and "Sit Down. Stand Up." been made two years before, each song's slowly swelling intensity would have plateaued a couple minutes in, functioning as mood pieces without any release; instead, each boils over into its own cathartic tantrum. The spook-filled "Sail to the Moon," one of several songs featuring prominent piano, rivals "Street Spirit" and hovers compellingly without much sense of force carrying it along. Somewhat ironically, minus a handful of the more conventionally structured songs, the album would be almost as fractured, remote, and challenging as Amnesiac. "Backdrifts" and "The Gloaming" feature nervous electronic backdrops, while the emaciated "We Suck Young Blood" is a laggard processional that, save for one outburst, shuffles along uneasily. At nearly an hour in length, this album doesn't unleash the terse blow delivered by its two predecessors. However, despite the fact that it seems more like a bunch of songs on a disc rather than a singular body, its impact is substantial. Regardless of all the debates surrounding the group, Radiohead have entered a second decade of record-making with a surplus of momentum.
Rolling Stone - Toure
There are so many delicious melodies here, so much that's both soothing and twisted and catchy, so much to sing along with, even if our prognosis is grim.
Spin Magazine - Will Hermes
Thief seesaws between the chill of sequencers and the warmth of fingers on strings and keys, like roommates having a stereo war. Yet the tension somehow holds things together. (A)
Entertainment Weekly - Rob Brunner
[There's] more focus on writing songs -- icily elegant compositions that move and build on themselves and carry you along with them, not just out-there textures and effects. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2003
Label:
Parlophone (Wea)
UPC:
0724358454321
catalogNumber:
845435

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Radiohead   Primary Artist,Track Performer
Colin Greenwood   Bass,Strings,Sampling,Synthesizer Strings
Jonny Greenwood   Guitar,Glockenspiel,Voices,Ondes Martenot,Toy Piano,Analogue Synthesizer
Ed O'Brien   Guitar,Vocals,Voices
Phil Selway   Percussion,Drums
Thom Yorke   Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Voices

Technical Credits

Radiohead   Composer
Nigel Godrich   Producer,Engineer,Operation,Engineering
Colin Greenwood   Composer
Jonny Greenwood   Composer
Ed O'Brien   Composer
Phil Selway   Composer
Thom Yorke   Composer,Lyricist
Graeme Stewart   Engineer
Stanley Donwood   Paintings
Darrell Thorp   Engineer,Catalog Reissue Supervisor

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Hail to the Thief 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago