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The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention CD (album) cover


The Smile


Crossover Prog

3.88 | 38 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars It's been seven long years since the last proper Radiohead album but rabid fans can't seem to get enough of Britain's favorite space rock / art pop group with the band's lauded 1997 blockbuster "OK Computer" still considered by many to be the best album of all time right up there with The Beatles, Miles Davis, PInk Floyd and Kendrick Lamar. Of course to each his own and i honestly don't share the frothing at the mouth syndrome associated with that band but i do enjoy their music and respect the band's unique approach in how it reinvented space rock in the 1990s. There seemed to be no end in site with 2016's "A Moon Shaped Pool" which also scored big with no sign of burn out for this Oxfordshire based artist. So what next?

Well it turns out that the next Radiohead album is actually no Radiohead album at all! WTF? Well it seems Thom Yorke, main dude of the band has collaborated with Johnny Greenwood (also of R-head) to create this side project called THE SMILE. Damn, i was hoping for Radiomouith or something cooler sounding! Anyways, this duo who both have been with Radiohead since the beginning have joined forces along with drummer Tom Skinner, an avid avant-chamber-jazz percussionist who has participated in groups like Melt Yourself Down, Owigny Sigoma Band, Sons of Kemet and Zed-U. As a trio these three musicians have crafted what many are considering the next Radiohead album.

The debut release of THE SMILE is titled A LIGHT FOR ATTRACTING ATTENTION and attention is has gotten indeed. At this point Thom Yorke could release an album covering polka songs and it would generate a spotlight but in the case of THE SMILE's so far only album, what we are actually treated to is something actually worthy of being considered the next chapter of Radiohead but of course we are all wondering if this side project is a one-off or is it the beginning of a new chapter where the other one has closed. Only time will tell but in the meantime A LIGHT FOR ATTRACTING ATTENTION has basically captured the essence of a Radiohead release only with a much needed upgrade in the musicianship and with a bonafide jazz drummer on board, the goal has been achieved!

With 13 tracks that drift slightly past the 53-minute mark, A LIGHT FOR ATTRACTING ATTENTION certainly captures the overall essence of classic Radiohead releases much more than any of Yorke's solo works or other side projects. Steeped in the same mopey detached keyboard-rich space rock that made the Headsters the favorite of hipsters worldwide, THE SMILE really does sound like they are simply upgrading "OK Computer" to the sounds of a quarter century in the future. The procession of mid-tempo electro-rockers that features Yorke's distinct falsetto and electronic backed grooves, THE SMILE successfully delivers an album's worth of tracks that all play off of each other quite well all the while sounding totally independent of each other.

While THE SMILE is officially a trio, this is a huge production with the addition of several guest musicians who play saxophone, flute, trombone, trumpet, tuba and double bass. If that wasn't enough the band also employs the entire London Contemporary Orchestra and its 12 musicians which add the string section of several violins, violas and cellos! The true wizardry of this production is from the producer himself however. Nigel Godrich (probably should change his name to OMF-ingGodrich) who is famous for his works with Radiohead as well as Beck Paul McCartney, U2 and countless others also joined ranks. Well no wonder this sounds just like that band i've already mentioned way too many times! Really makes me wonder if all the other band members were fired and if Yorke and Greenwood simply branched off.

Ah the music! That's what counts after all. This is album is a true surprise really. I wasn't expecting any R-head side project to come off so brilliantly. Each track stands on its own whether it's the bass heavy "The Smoke," the groovilisicous funky "Thin Thing" or the mopey acoustic guitar driven "Free In The Knowledge,"each song stands on its own and yet all flows together extremely effectively. What's also a plus with THE SMILE is that the band adds more influences from progressive rock giving the band more creds in the musicianship game.

Overall this is an excellent set of tracks on A LIGHT FOR ATTRACTING ATTENTION. The pluses i've already noted but the minuses are the fact that, well, it sounds just like a Radiohead release! It really does in almost every way. It only sounds like the band got better over the decades. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well that's obviously subjective. Personally i can't blame Yorke for cranking out what he does best even if he sounds a bit as if he's inhaled a helium balloon at times. Yeah this is 21st century art pop for the masses but there's nothing wrong with popularity and pop music when it's done properly and in the case of THE SMILE they pulled it off remarkably well. While there's no wow factor as on Radiohead's earliest releases that were utterly unique at the time, this one is certainly a competent 2.0 version of those classic years. Personally i love this one a lot even if it's not exactly a modern masterpiece of the ages. Hope to hear more from THE SMILE :) and hope they don't become a frown :(

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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