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Radiohead Hail to the Thief album cover
3.44 | 513 ratings | 53 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm.) (3:24)
2. Sit Down. Stand Up. (Snakes & Ladders.) (4:15)
3. Sail to the Moon. (Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky.) (4:28)
4. Backdrifts. (Honeymoon Is Over.) (5:32)
5. Go to Sleep. (Little Man Being Erased.) (3:31)
6. Where I End and You Begin. (The Sky Is Falling In.) (4:34)
7. We Suck Young Blood. (Your Time Is Up.) (4:59)
8. The Gloaming. (Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold.) (4:23)
9. There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere.) (5:25)
10. I Will. (No Man's Land.) (2:25)
11. A Punchup at a Wedding. (No No No No No No No No.) (4:54)
12. Myxomatosis. (Judge, Jury & Executioner.) (3:58)
13. Scatterbrain. (As Dead as Leaves.) (3:24)
14. A Wolf at the Door. (It Girl. Rag Doll.) (3:25)

Total Time 58:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Thom Yorke / vocals, guitar, piano, computer
- Ed O'Brien / guitar, Fx, backing vocals
- Jonny Greenwood / guitar, keyboards, toy piano, glockenspiel, ondes Martenot, analogue systems, computer
- Colin Greenwood / bass, String synth, sampler
- Phil Selway / drums, percussion

- Graeme Stewart / tape loops (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Stanley Donwood

2xLP Parlophone ‎- 5 84543 1 (2003, Europe)

CD Parlophone ‎- 584 5432 (2003, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief ratings distribution

(513 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FloydWright
2 stars Before I go further, I want to say that I do consider RADIOHEAD prog in the overall view. While I despise the "next Pink Floyd" comparisons I used to hear, I do think that's the element the two bands have in common.

My two-star rating is not an attack against RADIOHEAD's status as a prog band. It's just that I think their strongest work is behind them, as things currently stand.

When I heard a new RADIOHEAD album was about to come out, and that it was not intended to be in the same vein as the patchy Amnesiac, I developed high hopes for this album--even with its unnecessarily political title. I rushed out to buy it on its release day, and for those first few days I was enthralled. Sadly, the excitement of a new Radiohead album wore off fast, and I am left with doubts about this band's future. After 2 weak releases in a row (Amnesiac and this), plus having heard about their weak debut (Pablo Honey), I am hoping they haven't reached the end of the line. While this one had some very nice efforts, it simply lacked in consistency.

With that said--I will say what is always consistently excellent: the quality of PHIL SELWAY's drumming. I can't understand why this man is so ignored. Even in the cases of songs that I don't think are all that good, his work always stands out as a real asset. In fact, I will go so far as to say that he is among the drummers I most respect, and this album definitely provided further evidence. Tracks like "Where I End and You Begin" and "There There" show him off at his best. Another item I was pleased with almost all the way throughout was the inclusion of the piano, perhaps one of the few good things to come out of Amnesiac. "Sail to the Moon" follows in the tradition of the gorgeous "Pyramid Song", with almost a "Great Gig in the Sky" feel to it, and is definitely one of the standouts on the album. "A Punchup at a Wedding" also features the piano to excellent effect, as well as being the one true lyrical standout of the album (its lyrics about vengeful, bitter people certainly ring true). "Where I End and You Begin" is the most successful "rock" number on the album and is guaranteed to get you tapping your foot--in fact, that moment at 2:06 where the electric guitar comes in is one of the very best on the entire album. "There There", the other rocker, although it takes a little while for it to really build up, works pretty well, also. "Sit Down. Stand Up.", "Backdrifts", and "The Gloaming" are successful in a manner reminiscent of Kid A. "Scatterbrain" makes a nice mellow track without seeming to drag its feet, and in my opinion should have been the album's closer.

Unfortunately, my problem with Hail to the Thief is the fact that in spite of these stronger tracks, there are some weaker ones that really drag it down. Radiohead is capable of better than this, and it's even obvious from their B-sides. "2 + 2 = 5"...while musically not too bad,seems like an attempt to cash in on some people's political opinions (consider it came out in 2003 as the controversial 2004 U.S. election was getting underway), or to try to "look cool" (because it is "not cool" for stars to be politically neutral--which I prefer by far--or, God forbid, conservative!). That and the album's title do make me wonder sometimes, and I cannot say I am too pleased. "Go to Sleep", while not a bad acoustic guitar number, is a bit too close to the more successful "Paranoid Android" for comfort. As for "We Suck Young Blood"...I hate to knock a piano-oriented track, but aside from the explosive middle section, this one drags and drones right alongside the worst from Amnesiac. But as far as Amnesiac syndrome, the absolute worst for that is "I Will". I simply cannot comprehend how that one even got on the sounds like a reject from the rejects (Amnesiac). And "Myxomatosis"...maybe I'm missing something, but to my ear, this is literally painful noise. The only good thing at all (when I can manage to listen to a little bit to find it) is the drumming. Otherwise, I can't find anything likeable about it at all. And..."Wolf at the Door", while I may well be underrating it, it's a bit dull. Plus, since when does RADIOHEAD feel the need to resort to strong obscenities like that? Yes, sometimes there's a place for cursing but when bands use it gratuitously, it gets on my nerves. I admit it might well be better than I'm giving it credit for, but by the time I get to this song, I am just tired.

This album just goes on far too long with too little reward for me to rate it anywhere above 2 stars. This 14-song tracklist would have been winnowed down to 10 at the most if I had had my way with it, perhaps even 8 if I decided to be as discriminating as possible with it. I'm afraid I'm only prepared to give RADIOHEAD one more chance before I decide to keep the three masterpieces they did (The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A) and part ways with them. I used to think that RADIOHEAD was one of the best bands ever to come out of the 1990s, but I'm starting to think they may instead have been a temporary phenomenon.

Only time will tell.

Review by slipperman
4 stars Since Radiohead's inclusion into the Archives, some people have either jokingly or seriously nominated NOFX, Nirvana, Green Day, Bee Gees and Jimi Hendrix as nominees into the Archives. Though it's all a matter of how you perceive progressive rock, I think some people probably just aren't familiar enough with what Radiohead have done since "Creep" to make a fair comment. Apparently there are enough members of this site who feel Radiohead warrants consideration as a prog band. I do, and ever since 'OK Computer' I've felt they have just as much right to be considered amongst the prog family as Tool, Porcupine Tree, Voivod and Opeth. If the opening vibe of "Go To Sleep" were on a Jethro Tull or Strawbs album, it wouldn't be out of place. Call me nuts, but I hear something of Radiohead in bands as varied as Klaatu, Amon Duul II, Supertramp, The Mars Volta and Osanna. If those bands deserve a place here, then so does Radiohead.

I see 'Hail To The Thief' as a perfect meeting point between the grandiosity of 'OK Computer' and the nerdy speak-n-spell bizarreness of the 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' albums. Where "Backdrifts" floats along like one of the colder moments from 'Kid A', "Where I End And You Begin" goes in a completely different direction, echoing the exhausting emotional content of older songs like "Exit Music (For A Film)" and "You And Whose Army?" The album is quite long, and while that is usually detrimental to creating impact, 'Hail To The Thief' cooks along with enough song variety for it not to matter much. The first half of the album sits on a slow simmer, bouncing between digital freakouts like "Backdrifts" and "Sit Down, Stand Up" into earthier, more organic rhythms and textures like "Sail To The Moon". Once "Where I End And You Begin" works its bass- led hypnosis, you get hit with song after song representing their strongest and most enjoyable material since 'OK Computer'.

Thom Yorke seems to be enjoying singing with a little more force again. He seemed to be muting himself a little on the previous two albums, but here he opens up in many moments, and "We Suck Young Blood" is a great example of his capabilities as an emotionally riveting performer. It's a slow, depressive chant comprised of piano, hand- claps, and what sounds like a fretless bass (all slinky and watery). Beautiful. No use going into every remaining song (it's a 14-song album), but highlights include "Myxomatosis", a Moog-fueled paranoia trip, all squishy and disturbed (if that's not a Moog, I'm the ghost of Andy Gibb). "A Punchup At A Wedding" is a spiteful tune, Yorke at his fiery best, with great synergy between the musicians, layers building upon layers in time with Yorke's admonishments. 'Hail To The Thief' ends with 'A Wolf At The Door', a kind of collision between shuffle and psychedelia, which sees Ed O'Brien sharing vocals with Yorke. A haunting undertow is laid down underneath, making for an unsettling tune and an odd way to leave the album hanging.

Please don't hold the "alternative-rock" tag over this band's head. Not anymore. No one has ever argued against Rush's inclusion into the progarchives (not to my knowledge, anyway), and even if someone tried, they wouldn't be taken seriously if they claimed that "Rush is nothing but a Zeppelin clone!" Yeah, they were for one album--31 freakin' years ago. Radiohead is artistically as far away from the days of "Creep" and 'Pablo Honey' as Rush are from their humble origins. 'Hail To The Thief' is the fourth in a string of albums that stretch the rock boundaries by offering tons of wonderful ear-candy, interesting arrangements, headphone-friendly escapes, wild instrumentation and a pioneering sense of always going somewhere new with each song. A healthy dose of challenging and rewarding listening.

Review by Marcelo
1 stars I don't know why a band as RADIOHEAD is considerated progressive. From my point of view, this is an alternative-pop band (more pop than alternative), absolutely commercial and lack of creativity. OK, if you compare them with another terrible MTV crap "musicians", it's quite better, but... is this enough to speak about a "prog" group?

Many times, I think that prog community has some panic about the death of our beloved music. So, desperately try to find, in the new movements, progressive hints or "hidden" prog.

Anyway, "Hail to the Thief" IS NOT a progressive or an "almost progressive" cd. I only heard the same basic guitars and drums along the whole album. The melodies are the same, rythms are the same, there are not changes, surprises, beauty... Summarizing, there are not interesting elements here. Boring! Totally.

Review by hdfisch
2 stars Edited 10/5/2005!

I used to listen to RADIOHEAD for a while in the 90s and the music they did, at least on the albums "Bends" and "OKC" was quite OK for me at that time and I had the impression that they were sure much better than other bands from the genre, whether it's Oasis, Nirvana or who ever. But after they started to include a lot of electronics in their music I lost interest in the band although funnily this is the only reason why they finally been included on this site. Ok let's try to concentrate on this album.

Track 1 is starting quite nice actually and Yorke's vocs are still tolerable,though quite weeny then it suddenly develops to a very common Post-Punk Alternative song heard already in a similar way many times from numerous bands.

Track 2 starts again in a very mellow and melancholic way (and this is in fact one reason why I don't like such kind of music that much, the music is either very sad and depressive or very noisy and aggressive). The music played here I find in fact quite monotonous,after a while a very repititive part is starting with lots of electronics and a sudden end. That's it and actually I cannot detectany complexity here and therefore I have to agree to many co-reviewers.

Track 3 again starting melancholic, slowly it becomes to be tedious and I'm seduced to press the skip-button. Okay let's still suffer a little bit with Thom Yorke. The way this guy is singing he must be depressive like hell. The positive thing is that the songs are very short.

Track 4 is starting in a different way (WOW surprise), the usual electronic sound we're used to since Kid A. Again melody and rhythm very simple but even not nice to listen (at least for my quite old and trained ears). This is definitively not my kind of music and reminds to some electronic stuff done in the 80's (Kraftwerk and whatever). Moreover Yorke's weeny vocalss together with this plastic sound is really a torture.Thanks God it's over.

Track 5 sounds rather nice with acoustic guitar and the vocs are somehow tolerable on here. It's almost in the style they did on "Bends".I would say nice but as well nothing special. The song is developing quite well to a faster speed but again somehow the impresssion: "You had heard something like this before!".

Track 6 starts quite fast and altogether it seems it's a quite nice song, although lots of electronics being used, but in a nice way. I don't want to discuss its progressiveness, it's just nice,nothing more.

Track 7 starts with piano and is obviously a very melancholic song again, the slow mood together with the weeny vocals are almost sufficient to commit suicide. Definitinely No - skip-button!

Track 8 the title track is using again exclusively electronics and quite monotonous and boring I have to say.

Track 9 has at least almost no electronics, nice but not very exciting as well, although it's probably the best song so far. People who favor distorted guitar would call it excellent I guess. Not completely my stuff but I can tolerate. Whereas on Track 10 again Yorke's weeny voice is going into its extreme and again a reason for suicide - skip-button!

Track 11 is a very boring song as well let's go to Track 12 which is probably the "toughest" one on the album, containing quite a lot of electronics and distortion (cool for most "youngsters" I guess, not for me).

Track 13 is once again a nice song with Yorke singing in a tolerable way. Finally the last one is okay to listen as well..

CONCLUSION: I would not call "Hail to the thief" the worst RADIOHEAD album ever (their first one was probably worse), but for sure it's not as good as "Bends" and "OKC", it's containing some nice, but as well not exciting songs, but a considerable amount of (at least for me) non-tolerable songs. In fact I received this album soon after its release, listened to it once, then it disappeared in the rearmost corner and only listened it today again for reviewing. But I think it will disappear again. I would say 2 stars is a fair rating.

Review by arcer
3 stars A curate's egg. Hail to the Thief finds Radiohead at a tricky juncture. Having fully explored the pared back style of Kid A and Amesiac, the band seems to find itself slightly at a loss. So, they opt for a blend of OK Computer songwriting and Kid A exploration. It's hugely successful in parts but in other areas has the distinct sound a band treading water - or perhaps more correctly fence sitting while they figure themselves out. The good stuff though is great. 2+2=5 blending into the crunching synths of Sit Down, Stand Up (they feel like one track) is an awesome opener - bold, flashing, immediately involving. It gets better as they slow it down and wander through the piano balladry of Yorke's song for his child 'Sail to the Moon'. But then it seems to lose focus and direction slumping into a somewhat amorphopus mid- section where its hard to differentiate between the tracks. Is Backdrifts the one with the voices or is it Go To Sleep. Is the Gloaming the electronica one or is that We Suck Young Blood? Who knows, it just sounds undefined, unresolved, under-worked. Equilibrium is restored by the awesome Punch Up at a Wedding, Looping around a circular piano riff and a bass line reminiscent of the Beatles I am the Walrus, the band prowl through Yorke's vicious little fable. Outstanding. As is the electro-clash meets krautrock of Myxamtosis and finally the deeply paranoid A Wolf at the Door. In all, good but not great, though it's worth it for the opening three and closing four.
Review by soundsweird
3 stars I'm sure a lot of Radiohead fans liked the fact that this album is less experimental and louder than their last three albums. My inclination is to give it 4 stars since there are a number of great songs, but the direction taken by the group is a bit unsettling. I think that the decision to spend less time making the album was a natural one, but the results do not justify making that decision. For instance, there is some distortion on an otherwise beautiful guitar part in the middle of "Sail to the Moon" that is obviously not intentional. I already mentioned that the album seemed louder. Maybe I expected these guys to mellow like some of my other favorite bands (XTC, anyone?). I guess the political overtones meant that an angry, brash, in-your-face loudness was a foregone conclusion. My ears are a lot older than those of most of my fellow contributors, and they don't care for that typical "alternative" guitar sound, which gets more airtime on this album. I hope this was a sidestep, not the future path.
Review by frenchie
5 stars My head hurts. the problem with Radiohead being on this site is that it is so hard to review their albums in the light of prog because they completely lack any prog direction, only the minor elements. I will review this album anyway, as the piece of music it is, not as a prog album.

This is a brilliant piece of music, i think Radiohead still very much have the ability to put out albums which could be described as far as stunning. They have moved on from the weirdly ambient experiments on "Kid A" and "Amnesiac", i think this was a good move so that they could provide something new, and it worked. Hail to the thief is a majestic piece of art laced with powerful messages in its album artwork and title, even if it doesn't generally display this in the music itself. "2+2=5" is an incredible opener, the "you have not been paying attention" shows so much power which is a theme that the album implies. This track works so well and is very strong, gripping and rocking. it has the familiar deppressing vocals, strange lyrics, odd structures and experimental touches to make the casual Radiohead listener feel right at home.

"Stand up. Sit Down" is a brilliant piece, bringing the experimentation to the surface of the song, it fits in so well. I think the repetition of "the raindrops" works really well, the build up to its epic climax is immense. Another great example of how to build up to a stunning close on this album is "There There". This is blatently the best track on the album, its superb build up is broken as it goes into the "why so green and lonely" section. From there on it is heaven. One of my favourite parts of the album is the piano explosion in the middle "We Suck Young Blood", again built up superbly. Radiohead sure now how to pull of gripping pieces of music and still prove to be one of the most consistent and evolving bands out there. They have the nack to make good music last which can be very rare.

Some of the weaker parts of this album are some of the more electronica based moments such as "Scatterbrain", "The Gloaming" and "Backdrifts". These tracks sound like outcasts from "Kid A" and i don't think they fit in with the direction that "Hail to the Thief" is going in. "Myxomatosis" and "Punch Up at a Wedding" sound a little weak but manage to pass as being good pieces on the album as they are consistent and listenable. There is less of a decent flow on this album like there was on "Kid A" and "Ok Computer", it feels more like a collection of songs rather than one whole moving piece. Though a change is always welcome and it makes up for this in other areas. One good thing i did notice is that this seems to favour elements from all their previous works (except maybe "Pablo Honey"), yet has its own unique touch to them. Its definetly something new made out of something old, recycled perhaps. This is definetly their most artistic moment.

I see no reason why this album shouldn't recieve five stars for it is incredible, it is a new chapter in Radioheads career and is damn good throughout. The standout tracks on here, in my opinion, are "2+2=5", "We Suck Young Blood", "Sail to the Moon", "Stand Up. Sit Down", "There There" and "A Wolf at the Door". This album should not be missing from your Radiohead collection.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

This is the latest album of this great ptog/alternative/undergound band, and again this is different to the other ones, again a very experimental sound and with electronic tones.

After "Amnesiac", "Hail to the Thief" was released in 2003, the wait was good, because it is another great album for Radiohead`s fans. It starts with "2+2=5" a great opening track, here returned to the alternative and guitar oriented sound, with some electronic effects, this song has a strange beggining, and then ,it becomes so powerful, despite being the first track of the album, it was the third single, i think this album is the strongest and more powerful of this album, so after listen to it you can relax a bit and wait for softer music and less noise, experimental and great music.

"Sit Down , Stand Up" is the first of a melancholic and mellow tracks, this desperate song is special, is totally different to the first track,maybe this is the way of the album, different by different track, this song is repetitive, and at the end of it, a strange electronic beat appears.

"Sail to the Moon", is maybe similar to the last song, but i think this is better, with a "lullaby" mood and sound, a special fact in this kind fo songs, is the well - known deppresive way of sing of Thom Yorke, in fact the music and lyrics are a bit deppressive in this album (again), but thats a unique style of the band, and its good.

"Backdrifts", maybe my less favorite track, and i think is probably the weakest song, is so simple, and maybe boring and could desperate you, but anyway, is a nice track.

"Go to Sleep" begins with a superb acoustic guitar, i really think it is superb, Jonny Greenwood is a guitar monster, he playes very well, this song was the second single of the album, if you havent seen the video, its time to do it, its great, and the song is pretty nice too.

"Where I End and You Begin" , this song is very special for me,im in love with this, it has been envolving me every tiome i listen to it, it has a slow beggining, some spatial sound, then great bass lines making the rythm of the song, its a bit atmospheric and sad , lyrics are so great, and the voice beautiful like always, this tracj is my favorite of the album, it of course is not a strong song, but its beautiful, this is a prelude to the most exasperating song of the album, another weird change.

So, "We Suck Young Blood", maybe you will listen to it once, and then you wont listen again, it has a tremendous power of madness ,its so slow, with a frightening piano, and a scare vocals, between some claps, it so weird this song, but i like it, maybe if are not tolerant, you better push the skip button.

"The Gloaming" is another of my favorite themes, it is almost a experimental and electronic track, obviously with vocals and great atmosphere, this is definitively the most obscure track of the album, you will enjoy it, im sure this track could call your attention.

"There There", wow, it was my expression when i listen to it for the first time, it was on the radio, and this was the first single of the album, good choice i think, maybe this song is not a clear example of what the album is, but thatis not important, listen to this song with excellent harmony in the band, a nice and creative sound, and extraordinary lyrics, the drums are specially great, more guitar oriented and without electronic elements.

"I Will" is maybe another repetitive and melancholic track, if you really enjoy Yorke`s voice, this track could be so good for me, i like it, and this original version is for me better than the Com Lag version.

"A Punch at the Wedding" is some Beatle influenced track, its boring i dont like it so much, nice bass lines, but repetitive.

"Myxomatosis" is another excellent song, it has a very pleasant and again powerful sound, distorted bass make great this song, weird lyrics and some coll changes, (Re- Myxomatosis which is included in Com Lag, compared with this, is absolutely horrible), so maybe this track could be one of your favorites.

"Scatter Brain", nice guitar sound, so many good passages, but not the best song, i like it, but its not so creative as others, and the last song is.

"A Wolf at the Door", this is another great song, excellent to finish the album, again very weird and inventive lyrics, and beautiful guitar sound, with some difficult pronuntiation, but its so enjoyable.

Well talking about progressive rock, im sure this album is not what you are looking for, it`s songs lenght is something between 3. 30 and 4 minutes, of course it has some good changes, some atmospheric and with great electronic sound which make it some progressive. I like it so much, its not my favorite album but give it a try, i reccomend it to all of you. 4 Stars!

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars After the really depressing Amnesiac, could Thom (and more importantly the group's fans) take another shot of depression he had imposed on everyone? Well, no need to jump on the rest of your codeine pills (but keep them handy, you never know ;-): this album is somewhat "cheerier" or not as suicidal (and accessorily more accessible) and it represents a sort of return to form bringing us back a bit more towards the OK Computer days.

Yet Hail to The Thief is again not that easily digestible, remaining a hard bit to swallow and come out unscathed. Still "plagued" with semi post-rock and trip-hop ambiances, Yorke's bleak and gloomy world is still deeply depressive, vindictive (almost spiteful), reclusive and lonely. Somehow, I am still wondering how the Greenwood manage to stick around with having so few to say, crushed by Yorke manic songwriting totalitarianism. There are the usual traps that Thom & Co loves to sprinkle throughout the album (double song title, refusal to number their tracks, no: I personally think those are intentionally sprayed around to give the music a little more depth therefore hiding a bit its hollowness.

While this album is much more successful (artistically speaking anyway), this remains rather impenetrable quickly and personally I do not think most of Radiohead's later albums are worth the time investment unless you want to become an "emo" as Thom seems so happy to be pleased to stagnate in. But then again, since he finds a way to remain in the spotlight and do what he likes, who am I to disagree?

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Radiohead? Hard to define - Pseudoprog? Undeniably a highly talented band from the UK and clearly, as an individual, I must be missing something. Most everybody else likes them! I do like Hail To The Thief however. This is an album I can sink my teeth into and it has enough twists and turns to captivate the listener.The album starts with the moody '2+2=5' and gets the album off to a fine start.My personal favourites on this album are ' Where I end You Begin' a realy creeping spine tingler and the brilliant ' Punch Up At A Wedding'. Other great tracks are ' Backdrifts' and ' Myxamatosis'. You have to love Thom Yorkes voice to like Radiohead and I can just about tolerate it on Hail To The Thief. That does not mean they are a mediocre band though, far from it. Their album sales and international success speaks volumes. A good album.
Review by Eclipse
2 stars Another interesting album by RADIOHEAD, full with good new ideas, combining the rock side of OKC and the experimental daring found on the last two albums. It's not very enjoyable though, and i feel a bit tired after the end of the album, as it last too long and could have been explored better by the band. "2+2=5" and "Sit Down Stand Up" could work very well as one long song, since they have a similar feel. Both are amazing, and introduce the album very well. "Sail To The Moon" is another highlight, but from now on things get quite weaker. Not essential, but a good addition for YORKE's fans. Too depressive and tiring for my taste, though.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was supposed to be a return of the guitar and thankfully it is back, just not as much as I would like. Overall this album still has a lot of electronics to it but they have tried to balance the songs that are songs, and the songs that focus on soundscapes. I like half this album quite a bit, while the other half I could take it or leave it.

"2+2=5" a title taken from the George Orwell book "1984" takes 2 minutes before it kicks in and the wait was worth it ! Nice opening track. Yes, there is some good guitar too. "Sit Down Stand Up" like the first song takes some time to develope. 3 minutes in we get some fast paced percussion,and the vocals also pick up the pace. Synths are shooting all over the place. "Sail To The Moon" is a dreamy tune with mournful vocals. Piano leads the way on this great song. "Backdrifts" features electronics, vocals and percussion. Piano comes in late.

"Go To Sleep" is one of my favourites with strummed guitar and more upbeat vocals. "Where I End And You Begin" has a good beat to it and instrumentally reminds me of the STONE ROSES. "We Suck Young Blood" has weak, fragile vocals and I don't really like this one. We do get an outburst 3 minutes in. "The Gloaming" is another one i'm not too fond of,too experimental. "There There" is another favourite with some good guitar 4 minutes in. This one is simple yet catchy. "I Will" is a mournful sounding song that could have fit well on "Ok Computer". "A Punchup At A Wedding" has a good groove to it with vocal melodies to open and close it. "Myxomatosis" actually has some energy ! It reminds me of Gary Numan at times. "Scatterbrain" might be the best song on the album. Guitars and drums are great. "A Wolf At The Door" is ok, the vocal melodies before 2 minutes are good.

Good but not essential.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars My preferred albums from "Radiohead" so far were their debut "Pablo Honey" and their more famous "OK Computer". I'm afraid that "Hail To The Thief" doesn't reach these levels.

As a source of inspiration, the great "Echo & the Bunnymen" have always pleased me a lot more and as a follower, "Muse" produced much better stuff than "Radiohead" IMHHO.

Although there are some good songs featured here ("2+2= 5"), there are other painful ones like "Backdrifts" which reminds me too much of "Kid A" and its ambient/electro boring mood.

On the contrary of several reviewers, I don't have any problem with Yorke's voice; the problem resides more in the quality / feeling of the songs.

My favourite moment from this work is probably "Where I End and You Begin" although it sounds a bit as déjà vu (hi "Echo"). At least it rocks a bit and its melody is pretty fine. But to stand the whole of "Suck Young Blood" is very difficult. It really next to avoid total boredom. But it won't help you a lot, since you will have to face the extremely poor "The Gloaming". You know the story: press next again.

When the band reverts to a more straightforward rock, it is instantly better. Another one of my fave is "There There". Not extremely original, but a pleasant piece of rock music. No experimentation, just raw guitar and harmony. And convincing vocals.

The same year "Radiohead" released this album, "Muse" produced the great "Absolution". The latter band might well be compared as a clone of the former, but there are absolutely no comparison between both albums. This one is far to reach the brilliance, the grandeur of "Absolution". So, get the latter one instead.

This album holds too few good songs to deserve the three star rating. Somewhat dull and repetitive actually, just like "Punch Up At A Wedding". An EP would have done the job. Two stars.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Yorke was never very good at math...

Hail To The Thief is a very strange album for Radiohead. After straying more into electro-prog territory with their last two albums, Kid A and Amnesiatic, they finally decided to bring the guitar back out and give it more of a rock sound. As such, this really isn't much of a prog album, not that they really wanted to be a prog band in the first place - often denying the tag. Guitar, Piano and bass dominate the album along with the usual Yorke grumble (or whine, or scream depending on what kind of mood he's in). The album itself is very hard to rate because at times it's mindblowing, while at other times it's sickeningly boring. The song We Suck Young Blood pretty much defines the album, it's blindingly beautiful and incredible piano piece that could take on the piano from Supertramp's School sandwiched between boring, almost a-capella vocals from Yorke. Flashes of brilliance between seas of uninteresting songs.

Most of the songs here on any other album would have been called 'filler'. Not like, ''crappy song to fill time'' filler, but ''short songs to fit between the standout pieces'' filler. None of the songs on the album are a showcase of the band's abilities, and all of them end frighteningly before they should. 2+2=5 could easily have been 20-minutes if the band really wanted to make a prog masterpiece, but instead ends right when it picks up. This happens for a lot of the songs on the album, leaving many of them forgettable. Other standouts on the album include the heavy-as-hell and synth driven Mxyomatosis, which brings back memories of Idiotique from Kid A thanks to it's almost club-beat, (which actually works for them in this case) and the creepy coda A Wolf At The Door with it's offbeat delivery.

The rest of the album really doesn't stand out. There's a couple of amazing melodies used once and mistakenly discarded as the formally mentioned We Suck Young Blood and other times a sea of melody-less bass overtake the song and turn it into noise as on The Gloaming.

One thing that is kind of cool about the album is the gimmicks. Each song has two titles (a title and a parenthesis title) and the fact that all the songs are all so short work with the quick-cut culture of today - although that really is not the prog audience. Some of the heavier moments being back memories of the band's glory days and the first half of the album definitely overtakes the second, but all around this one is a pretty big disappointment for the prog world.

Ultimately this one is going to get 2 scattered brains out of 5. Pieces of this album could have enhanced other releases from the band but overall this one doesn't hold together too well. Hiring a lot of people who don't do much work is not better than hiring few people who really know what they're doing in this case (to use an analogy of short vs. long songs). Not a bad album and fans will definitely enjoy it, but the rest will be able to miss this one unless they really need to hear some later Radiohead.

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars I need to give this album a little boost here. Hail to the Thief is Radiohead's most diverse and it's filled with top-notch material. That having been said, it doesn't have the groundbreaking, essential for any rock collection feats of OK Computer or Kid A, but it is still highly experimental. The songs here combine both of Radiohead's worlds, rock and electronic, with new twists. The songs tend to have thick, dark atmospheres. The songs are all under 6 minutes, but plenty happens in those few minutes, most of the time.

The opener, "2+2=5" starts with a set of clean guitar arpeggios with Thom's ethereal voice before spontaneously exploding in the back third of the song for a climactic ending. A recent review complains that this could have easily been a 20-minute prog suite if the band wanted, but they didn't want to do it. It's not their style. Sure, I'd love to hear the band write a 20-minute song, but I am completely satisfied with the result of the quick and dynamic opening track. From there we move into one of the band's best tracks, "Sit Down. Stand Up." Which starts off quite atmospheric as well, and slowly builds into a crazy, chaotic electronic breakbeat climax. It's a very cool song. From there we have a ballad, "Sail to the Moon." It's a beautiful piece with an unusual count. A slower electronic-based piece "Backdrifts." leads into another rocker, "Go to Sleep." Both are good songs, but the next highlight of the album is the song that comes next, "Where I End and You Begin." More ethereal goodness suppliments a sweet bassline and its density increases to the end of the song with the dark, scary repetition of "I will eat you alive." The creepiness continues into the next piece, "We Suck Yound Blood." As the name implies, this is a dark piece. It is very slow and brooding for 3 minutes before the tempo suddenly increases and the song goes into an uptempo, jazzy segment that is very misleading. After a few repetitions the song goes right back to how it was a few seconds ago. This move was probably not the best. I like songs taking unexpected turns and all, but this break could have been given some more breathing time. Besides, the rest of the song gets kinda boring by the end. Next, "The Gloaming." is an electronic piece, more chaotic and interesting than "Backdrifts.," but also less melodic. "There There." is a very nice, melodic piece and is another highlight that starts a series of solid tracks to bring the album to a close. The interlude "I Will." moves us into another memorable bassline which leads the way in "A Punchup at a Wedding." This one has some good vocal work also. Good track. "Myxomatosis." is a largely electronic piece, and it is easily the best of its class on the disc. "Scatterbrain" is an emotional piece, again leaning on the dark side, and "A Wolf at the Door" is a brooding, strong closer.

Any fan of Radiohead should find a lot to enjoy here. Those not familiar with the band are advised to check out OK Computer, Kid A and their recent masterpiece In Rainbows for an easier and more consistently satisfying intro to the band. I am inclined to agree that some of the songs could have been trimmed or even plain cut out, and others could have been expanded, but the good far outweighs the bad for me. Hail to the Thief is another excellent title in the band's catalog.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Hail to the Thief" is the 6th full-length studio album by UK alternative rock act Radiohead. The album was released through Parlophone in June 2013. "Hail to the Thief" was recorded from September 2002 to February 2003 at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood and Canned Applause in Oxfordshire.

The album features 14 tracks and a full playing time of 56:35 minutes. The more experimental approach to writing music that Radiohead initiated on "OK Computer (1997)" and further explored on "Kid A (2000)" and "Amnesiac (2001)" is not continued here. The band felt exhausted by the longdrawn recording sessions for especially the two latter mentioned albums and wanted to record a more spontanious album. So while there are some slightly experimental elements on "Hail to the Thief", it´s by far Radiohead´s least experimental album since "The Bends (1995)".

The music on the album is melancholic alternative rock and graced by Thom Yorke´s emotional and distinct sounding vocal delivery. The quality and consistency of the material on the album is overall decent. It´s not an album where many tracks stick out though. The return to a more guitar driven alternative rock as opposed to the electronic experiements and sound manipulations on the direct predecessors might have something to do with it. A little more experimentation like the adventurous compositional ideas featured on "Kid A (2000)" and "Amnesiac (2001)", could definitely have made "Hail to the Thief" a bit more intriguing.

As it is, it´s still a relatively enjoyable alternative rock album, but compared to the more daring releases in Radiohead´s discography, it´s ultimately a bit to safe. If you´re going to pursue a more "regular" songwriting style and predominantly employ normal rock instrumentation, you better make sure that the material you´ve written are of a really high quality, because on an album like this one you can´t hide compositional flaws or tedious songwriting behind electronic bleeps and blops or excuse it with experimentation. "Hail to the Thief" still features a pleasant and professional sounding production, impeccable musicianship and decent songwriting, so a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted. To my ears "Hail to the Thief" is simply among their least interesting releases.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hail To The Thief is my favourite Radiohead album. It is not as groundbreaking as some of the earlier works but it is a solid album that consolidates all aspects of their sound very well. It sort of revisits the many styles they have gone through in their evolution from Britpop to progressive indie and further on to experimental electronic.

All tracks here are great or even outstanding songs, regardless whether it is rocking indie (2+2=5), drum&bass trip-hop (Sit Down Stand Up), electronic experiments (Backdrifts), anthemic stadium rockers (Go To Sleep), or the beautiful sadness of Sail To The Moon and plenty other plaintive ballads. If we're talking about top-class indie, this is it.

My amazement at this album's low reception on PA is quite huge. Of course there is the predictable negativity coming from the 'this is not prog' votes, but I'm surprised this album also seems to evoke little positive responses from the fans.

I'm obviously hearing something nobody else does. Good for me, this albums has it all, it is not merely a backwards looking album but actually improves the electronic experiments of the 2 previous albums by fusing them with some of the rocking energy of their earlier work. An excellent Radio-synthesis for me.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After pretty much completely ignoring the band's two previous releases, I suddenly felt a new craving for Radiohead material right around the time when Hail To The Thief was being released.

After reading a couple of very positive reviews I decided to give in and purchase this so called back-to-basics release. The only problem was that I completely neglected the fact that Radiohead was no longer the same band that they were in the '90s. Most of the members had by this time already grown out of the band's alternative rock persona that only seem appealing when you're a young adult. What I mean by that is the simple fact that Radiohead has suddenly stopped trying to push boundaries of music and began feeling content with simply recording another record for their fans. Nothing really wrong with that, but the result can't really be considered more than a fans only release.

2+2=5 kicks off the album on a very interesting note where we get a fun combination of the alternative rock and electronica styles that defined the two different eras in the band's history. Initially, it really got me excited for what new ideas Radiohead would have in store for me this time. The answer to that was quite disappointing since there was in fact very little new to be found on this release. I realize that Radiohead had pretty much spoiled me with their previous achievements that managed to be versatile and creative all at once but I'm pretty sure that I would dismiss Hail To The Thief no matter the history I have with the band.

It's a very long album that has very few interesting ideas. On top of that, most of its time is spent in compete blandness of uninteresting performances and songs that would have probably been left on the cutting room floor during any of the band's previous sessions. I've recently read a few old interviews where even the members themselves seemed to be quite disappointed with Hail To The Thief, proclaiming it to be a bit rushed due to family commitments that the participants prioritized more than the music. There's definitely nothing wrong with having other priorities, but it's unjust to actually release a product that you know is lacking only for a quick cash in.

It's obvious that I didn't find Hail To The Thief to be very enjoyable and even though I've been trying to give it a few more chances over the years, it has still remained pretty inaccessible to my ears.

**** star songs: 2+2=5 (3:26) Sit Down. Stand Up (4:17) Sail To The Moon (4:30) There There (5:26) I Will (2:26) A Wolf At The Door (3:26)

*** star songs: Backdrifts (5:33) Go To Sleep (3:32) Where I End And You Begin (4:35) We Suck Young Blood (5:00) The Gloaming (4:24) A Punch-up At A Wedding (4:57) Myxamatosis (3:59) Scatterbrain (3:25)

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Radiohead was one of those bands that, when people heard I was a prog fan, they said I should check out. Well check them out I did. I'm not impressed.

I suppose that there is enough (just barely) on this album to qualify the band as crossover prog. There are unusual time signatures, exotic synthesizer sounds and noises, and a progressive approach to the music. The musicians are certainly capable of playing this style.

But then there's Thom Yorke. His style of moaning, and a weak tone on every track make the album almost unbearable to listen to. It almost makes me yearn for death metal growls. Almost. Like progressive death metal, I'd probably enjoy instrumental versions of the songs much more.

Review by Conor Fynes
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.

Review by tarkus1980
5 stars What stands out almost immediately upon listening to this album is the definite sense that the band's only purpose in these sessions was to make a good album. In making The Bends, it's clear to me that the band was jumping out of its skin to try and make people forget about "Creep," and to gain the reputation as one of the Great Anthemic Bands of the 90's. OK Computer focused as much on Yorke's sense of alienation from the world as it did on the music itself, and of course the majority of the Kid A/Amnesiac tracks showed that the band was focused on doing something different with its sound than before. Hail to the Thief, though, is very much a consolidation of the band's sound, and while there are some minor developments here and there, most of the album could be adequately described as OK Computer refracted through Amnesiac. Hence, anybody whose respect for the band largely tied into how much they evolved from album to album will probably be somewhat disappointed with this one. Plus, this album has nothing resembling the "epic sweep" that OK Computer and Kid A had; there's a slight political bent here and there, but this album is clearly just a collection of songs.

WHAT a collection of songs, though. The band brought back the guitars to its sound in full force, but they also make liberal use of keyboards, "modern" rhythms and various neat production effects, and these combine into one of the most intriguing sonic palettes I can think of post-70's. And, well, I really like the melodies on here. Of the fourteen tracks on the album, only two really make me drift off in any significant way. One of them, "We Suck Young Blood," has a dirgey piano atmosphere not unlike what one would find on some early Procol Harum songs, as well as amusingly morbid handclaps, but five minutes is certainly too long for a track of this nature, and I can see how it would annoy the living hell out of people. I'm also not too fond of "The Gloaming," which relies on a monotonous loop that's a little too inhumane and ugly even for my tastes.

But that's only two tracks, leaving a dozen goodies in their wake. The opening "2+2=5" is one of the band's strongest ever tracks, not just for the lyrics (like the "YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION" chorus) but for the way it builds the band's traditional dark, arpeggiated guitar lines (set to non-traditional electronic rhythms, of course) into a rocking monster the likes of which the band hadn't done since The Bends. Plus, kudos should be given to the band for shutting down the song after three minutes; they could have easily extended it to five, and it would have been ok that way, but cutting it off when they do makes it seem that much stronger and more intense.

"Sit Down Stand Up" seems to have divided fans pretty strongly over the years, particularly for the fact that Thom seemingly says the words "little raindrops" in the frantic coda at least 20 times (I didn't count), but I find it extremely strong. I do admit that it's a little suspicious of the band to have a coda that features the words "little raindrops" when they already had a song ("Paranoid Android") that had a section that centered around Thom singing "Rain down ...," but the songs are plenty different otherwise (this is basically a more up-tempo and aggressive version of an average Amnesiac track). Plus, um, the electronic bits sound more than a bit like rain pouring down anyway, so it seems like Thom's singing is a nice atmospheric touch to me.

"Sail to the Moon" kinda strikes me as a cross between "Pyramid Song" (the atmospheric, directionless piano foundation) and "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (the synth line that sounds like the upward guitar line from that song), but that only bothers me a little bit, and the atmosphere matches its title perfectly. "Backdrifts" has an excellent build from the almost white-noise synth introduction, and combines a great vocal melody with a bunch of other fantastic arrangements. "Go to Sleep" starts off as a dark acoustic guitar number, before building into an effective "normal" electric rocker, and strikes me as one of the album's standouts.

"Where I End and You Begin" takes a great quiet bassline and a hypnotic (acoustic) drum rhythm, piles a bunch of synth (and eventually guitar) sounds on top, and features yet ANOTHER great vocal melody and performance from Thom (I'll say it again; I may not care much about what he's singing about most of the time, but I sure tend to like what he's singing). After the standstill of the two weaker tracks, we come to "There There," which probably sums up the album's overall sound better than any other track here (that's probably why it was chosen as a single). It starts as yet another hypnotic percussion rhythm, adds an effective set of guitar lines, features yet another fantastic vocal melody, and rides this groove well for over five minutes (picking up intensity in the last minute or so). It passed me by the first couple of times I listened to it, but I don't really get that now.

After the quiet beauty of "I Will" (a bit of a throwaway at 1:59, but a nice track nonetheless), we come to my other favorite track of the album, "A Punchup at a Wedding." What can I say, I absolutely love the interplay of the moody piano lines with the drums and bass, and I especially love the tense vocal line. Plus, I'm absolutely fascinated by the mix of grumbly guitar pounding in the left speaker and the quiet plinky guitar (synth? I dunno) line that pops up midway through the song.

"Myxomatosis" might annoy some people, but I totally love the over-the-top distortion of the weird bassline, and it makes me like the song even if the rest of it doesn't have anything I find extremely notable. "Scatterbrain" sounds a bit like an OK Computer outtake, especially in the guitars, but I like it; I'd have been thrilled to have this track on there instead of one of that album's weaker tracks. And finally, the closing "A Wolf at the Door" features yet another fascinating Yorke delivery, with him delivering really disturbing and disorienting imagery at a very fast pace, while all the while the guitars are playing a perfect set of lines. Plus, the "chorus" melody is uplifting and heartwarming in its own way, even if the lyrics are just as disturbing as ever.

I really don't know how many people would agree with rating this higher than OK Computer, but to me it's pretty much a no-brainer. This one may borrow some ideas from that one, but I really think this has more interesting arrangements and a deeper sonic texture, and this one doesn't tightly tie itself to a concept that I never found that interesting in the first place. I know that my opinions on music from this era probably aren't worth much, but this is one of the more enjoyable albums I've heard from the 1990's onward, and I heartily recommend it.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This great Radiohead album has always been perceived (rather unfairly, I might add) as a low point in Radiohead's career. Many feel that the album is uninspired compared to other releases and rather boring. I never got that.

This album is a rather stone cold look at the way modern societies work (in that case, it'd almost have to sound rather bleak) and the way Radiohead presents it, too me anyway, is exceptionally brilliant. This album packs an emotional punch in a different way than most of the albums do, this is more of an emotional roundhouse kick because this is very depressing stuff. And I've always found that I enjoy music that moves me like this.

Each track is well crafted, each containing the electronic treatment that the previous two albums had while maybe going back to their earlier work in terms of song structure. The resulting sound that each track has is a bold and mechanical one, one that fills you with rage and jerks your tears at the same time. I have found myself sometimes trapped in my own thoughts, crying or being emotionally empowered after listening to this album and it's an incredible feeling that no other album can do.

Hail to the thief, my friends.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Hail to the Thief was seen by some as a creative retreat to safer ground by Radiohead, and hailed by others as a return to guitar rock. Neither is really the case. Guitar rock had never left the Radiohead sound; even in the midst of the arid electronic wilderness of Kid A and Amnesiac, both albums included at least one really tight indie rock number. What is the case is that, having successfully branched out into the electronic arena, Radiohead eventually decided to bring the guitar rock aspect of their sound back to the fore on this album - but they blend it so expertly with electronic departures but this is clearly an evolution, not a regression.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Radiohead reviews are always all over the board. You have those who love them and those that hate them and those that are somewhere in between, which I suppose is true for most bands, but if just seems so evenly distributed with listeners when it comes to Radiohead. They are a band that I love to listen to and that I appreciate, but it usually takes me time to get used to some of their albums where others just seem to attract me right off the bat. But, eventually I come to appreciate their innovativeness, their experimentation in different sounds and the genius of their music.

"Hail to the Thief" was one of the ones that took me a little more time to appreciate. Even though I don't consider it their absolute best, it is better than some and it is quite good. When the album was made, the band had decided not to spend so much time in making the songs so "perfect" as they had on the last 2 albums, which were "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" both of which were quite experimental and mostly electronic. This songs were done more spontaneously. In fact, Yorke said that they got to where they were producing and recording a song per day.

This album also sees a return to a more guitar based sound while still maintaining a lot of electronic elements. The songs here are much more varied, some concentrating on the use of electronics and others are more organic using traditional rock instruments. In my opinion, what you get here is a good variety of both styles with quality songs. The music is much more focused and accessible than it was on the previous two albums. Even with it's accessibility, it still has it's share of challenges, and it is a far cry from being traditional pop. There are the more rock oriented songs like "There There", "Punchup at a Wedding", and "Sit Down, Stand Up". And there are the more electronic based songs which are more experimental like the amazingly emotional "We Suck Young Blood", "The Gloaming", "Myxomatosis" and so on. Yet, amongst these tracks there are elements of both styles, and the songs tend to give us the best of both worlds.

I don't think it is necessary to go into a lot of detail about the album beyond this because it has been reviewed a lot on this site and you can read so many different opinions about it here and make your own decisions. There always seems to be a war about whether this band is progressive or not, but I can easily hear the progressive elements because the sound is definitely non- traditional and I can consider it progressive even if the songs are not epics, they don't always have to be, do they? Radiohead always keep their songs around 4-5 minutes or less, but there is always a lot of ingenuity packed into those songs. Even though this is not a masterpiece, it is still an excellent album and I can easily give it 4 stars without hesitation.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars Allow me to announce up front that I'm far from being this band's most avid fan. However, I greatly admire their staunch refusal to play by the music industry's rules. In this day and age when so much of what passes for modern music is inane and unimaginative drivel I find any outfit that dares to be different rather refreshing, even if what they produce ain't my cup of tea exactly. Radiohead definitely fits into that category so when I review one of their albums I try to remain totally honest while refraining from being overly harsh when I hear something I don't find intriguing or engaging. Just the fact that they're following their muse wherever she leads earns them respectability in my book.

The CD opens with '2+2=5', a track that confirms from the get go that these guys are sticking with their usual unusual approach to making music. They certainly don't sound like anybody else that I'm aware of. Like I said, I find their work interesting even if I don't completely 'get it.' 'Sit Down Stand Up' follows whereupon a haunting piano roils beneath Thom Yorke's rough but emotional vocals till energetic drums enter to pick up the song's languid pace and carry it into the end. 'Sail to the Moon' is next. It has a melancholy yet beautiful aura that surrounds Thom's gliding vocal line and the overall effect is suitably spacy. 'Backdrifts' features a noisy, rumbling synth opening that steadily evolves into a pseudo techno pulsating beat as the vocal weaves around the track's core motif. 'Go to Sleep' is a bit of a departure in that it exudes a folkish, Led Zep III styled aroma that grows ever more frantic in the long run. During 'Where I End and You Begin' funky drums pound away under a meandering, bass-heavy pattern and ethereal melody lines emitting from Yorke's anguished pie hole. 'We Suck Young Blood' is a dreary dirge that features a chain gang-like clap track that casts an even darker pall on the proceedings. There's a fairly odd abrupt interlude included that proves they're liable to toss a surprise in at any moment.

'The Gloaming' begins with what I'll characterize as the sound made when a phonograph needle reaches the end of a vinyl LP side and rides endlessly on the inner grooves. That could be just me, though. But it's at this juncture I get the feeling the group wasn't trying to assemble 'songs' as much as they were experimenting with what their various devices offered up to play with. Again, I hold their spunkiness in high esteem but there's a lot of hit and miss going on here. 'There There' brings out the jungle toms that establish a thick rhythm to accompany the chunky guitar chording and a subtle vocal performance. To their credit it does gather intensity along the way. 'I Will' is more traditional-sounding than what's preceded it but that doesn't mean they lost their unconventional mindset. Sinatra it ain't. 'A Punch Up at a Wedding' builds on a straight-ahead rock beat that plows through some strange vocalizations and harmonies issuing from Thom. 'Myxamatosis' sports a heavy, fuzzy riff and pounding drums that dominate in the background whilst Yorke warbles a plethora of his existential poetry. It climaxes in a nifty sci-fi splash. 'Scatterbrain' follows. I have to warn the reader that if you're searching for a lot of variety this album really doesn't deliver much of that at all. I sense they were in a pensive, surreal mood when they put this one together and they maintained that navel-gazing countenance throughout the recording process. As for this particular cut, it's consistently indulgent. Sadly, their free-form noodlings do become wearying after a while. They finish with the cool 'A Wolf at the Door.' Thom's rap-tinted vocal lines hover over a bluesy drum pattern and I consider this unorthodox song the apex of the record.

I've read where Yorke claimed they wanted to take a more 'relaxed' approach when they constructed this collection of tunes. Well, it's relaxed alright. Not a lot of excitement being generated. I would've enjoyed hearing a tad more structure at times like I heard on 'Kid A' but my hat's off to them for not being predictable. 'Hail to the Thief' reached the top of the UK charts and #3 in the USA and that gives me hope that there are some in the younger set that appreciate musical creativity enough to support bands like Radiohead and others that dare to color outside the lines. 3.1 stars.

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4 stars Just 'cause you feel it doesn't mean it's there After gaining a reputation for being one of the world's premier rock groups, a cloud of mystery surrounded the possible directions that Radiohead's sixth studio album would take. The band has dabbled, and found success, in styles ranging from brit ... (read more)

Report this review (#126877) | Posted by moreitsythanyou | Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Back to the early days.... After a strong change suffered by Radiohead's style with Kid A and Amnesiac, here in Hail to the Thief, the band tries to go on making electronic/ambient pieces, but, at the same time, coming back to the early stuff (OKputer, The Bends... even Pablo Honey). As a resu ... (read more)

Report this review (#124690) | Posted by sircosick | Monday, June 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Radiohead. You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them. I see a lot of bias against Radiohead on this site, seemingly because they're not necessarily "progressive," and they're extremely commercially successful. I, however, do not think their success in any way negates their cr ... (read more)

Report this review (#121211) | Posted by Momentary Lapse | Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've been exposed to Radiohead a long long time, when I was 11 years old Mtv was playing Karma Police and Paranoid Android all the time. I like the songs in some way but always thought they were too depressive to listen to. When I was about 14 years old I walked around my dads room and saw Ok Com ... (read more)

Report this review (#111558) | Posted by Jochem | Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Since "OK Computer", Radiohead spent several years fiddling with their Powerbooks and producing some of the best innovative music of these times with "Kid A" and "Amnesiac". But these albums were full of restless experimentation, and never stood still. With "Hail to the Thief" we get a sense tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#108072) | Posted by Open-Mind | Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hail to the thief is a great dissapointment and a really mediocre album for a band like Radiohead, first the neglect of careful tracklisting and the length of the album are negative aspects and i think the band with Hail to the thief prove that they just have reached the highest point in their ... (read more)

Report this review (#104705) | Posted by Quba | Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Radiohead are one of my favourite bands but this album... its okay. This album just sounds a bit to planned, all their previous albums flow naturally, they seem like a true expression of the band at each time, whereas this, sounds a little forced, like an album made for the sake of making an al ... (read more)

Report this review (#100331) | Posted by bod gorrel | Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dear fan of progressive rock, here is an album that far too many have overlooked, and far too few have given a proper chance. Not since the 1970's has a band compilled a more diverse and engaging piece of work. For any who were the types to smoke and turn out the lights while listening to your ... (read more)

Report this review (#99155) | Posted by Semias | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Not a real masterpiece of prog, however, a decent album. It is less experimental, the songs are more soild tunes. I would not reccomend it to prog fans but to people who are into contemporary music. The song that stands out for me is "Backdrifts". It has a cool feel and beat. A song that comes ... (read more)

Report this review (#63730) | Posted by | Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This Album is a combination of early kind of works. Many people have argue about what it is progressive and non-progressive. This album is not progressive, so why it is here? The reason is the fact that Kid A and Ok Computer are really prog albums. So if one or two albums are progressive then ... (read more)

Report this review (#52033) | Posted by tailsme | Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Musically (regardless of taste), the order of Radiohead from best to worst (of their mainstream albums) goes as thus: OK Computer/Kid A The Bends Hail to the Thief Amnesiac Pablo Honey You can argue all you want with me, but unless you can name me every single mode in existence and si ... (read more)

Report this review (#46040) | Posted by | Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What needs to be said about Radiohead? One of the few bands that manages to captivate the avant garde as well as having massive pop/MTV appeal. Most of you already want this anyway. Or already have it. And you should. Because it's great. Seems like now that Radiohead have gone through all the d ... (read more)

Report this review (#44801) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hail the The 8or The Gloaming). At first it might sound like a combination of Amnesiac's mild electronic experimental jazz and The Bends"s catchy pop hooks, but once you get past that you'll see that Hail to The Thief is unlike any previous Radiohead album in a good way. The music is simple in ... (read more)

Report this review (#41783) | Posted by | Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This is not Prog-rock. This is not played well. Bad production. One of the worst CD's I ever listened to. Completely meaningless lyrics. Why they do record such non-music? Because they are trying to be different and cool. Well, maybe this is cool for some prematures and teens. But trying to play ... (read more)

Report this review (#40898) | Posted by | Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The one thing that separates this album from all their others is that it is both accessible and experimental. it creates that joining point which all others fail to do. FACT. this album is both cool and proggy. i wont go through every single song but every time i listen to the album i simply lose my ... (read more)

Report this review (#35434) | Posted by | Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars original: its inconsistant, some parts r quite original (sit down stand up, the gloaming, there there, myxamatosis, a wolf at the door) other parts r fairly traditional rock (2+2=5, sail to the moon, go to sleep, where i end and u begin, scatterbrain) theres even some traditional electro in there (b ... (read more)

Report this review (#33991) | Posted by | Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars - So what if it isn't 100% prog? This album is a masterpiece, despite the fact that several tracks fall flat. After all, who REALLY likes more than 6 songs off of OK Computer? This album isn't Prog-Rock, it's true. But it is *progressive*. Some tracks feature morose, Largo claps, others frant ... (read more)

Report this review (#33988) | Posted by | Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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