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Radiohead - Hail To The Thief CD (album) cover

HAIL TO THE THIEF

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.42 | 308 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Hail To The Thief' - Radiohead (7/10)

After a pair of albums that virtually reinvented Radiohead's sound into a deeply experimental sound, the band would return with an album that seemed to 'return to their roots', to some extent. With 'Hail To The Thief', largely gone are the strange, dense and challenging sounds of 'Kid A'; it instead sounds like a slightly darker and eclectic version of 'OK Computer'. The album is both their most diverse and least cohesive, although some of the band's greatest songs to date are included here.

With '2+2=5', Radiohead expands their sound to grasp an aggressive punk sound, sounding more tortured than they ever have. While 'Hail To The Thief' is a big step back for the band, they do manage to throw in some new sounds that they picked up along the way. 'Sit Down, Stand Up' then contrasts the aggression of the first track with an electronically based track with some haunting pianos that is quite minimalistic, yet eerie in the way it's performed and built over the course of the five minutes. From there on, there's a continuing revolving door of styles, with tracks being psychedelic ballads ('Sail To The Moon'), more down-to-earth acoustic tracks circa 'The Bends' ('Go To Sleep') or even as if they were snatched from the 'Kid A' sessions ('The Gloaming'). Overall, this variety does make it an interesting collection of songs to say the least, but it suffers greatly in terms of album flow. While most Radiohead albums feel as if they have an intentional flow to them, I can only spot two or three track transitions that run smoothly here.

Diverse as they are, there does seem to be a running influence of baroque pop here, such as the darker works of The Beatles. The melodies are generally well done, although the band often gets too wrapped up in their own weirdness to keep things catchy, which can be good or bad, depending on mindset. As always, the largest point of debate here are the vocals of Thom Yorke, which I find irritating at times for their whiny moroseness, but other times they work perfectly for the music.

'Hail To The Thief' is overall a pretty good art rock album, although it admittedly works much better as a collection of songs, rather than a cohesive piece of work.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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