5.0 out of 5 stars A sumptuous masterpiece
It starts with what is still surely one of the most thrilling sounds known to modern man - a guitar being plugged into an amp. It's tempting to interpret that distinctive, buzzy pop as a statement of intent; enough of the radical experimentation, Radiohead seem to be saying - we're back and we're ready to rock.
It's not quite that simple, of course. Their sixth album...
Published on Jun 23 2003 by ncr
3.0 out of 5 stars Get the normal version
I had all the songs from this CD already. They are great. This is maybe one of the best albums they have come out with so far. Every song is just great. BUT, i ordered the special edition because I was expecting it to be as good as the Amnesiac Limited edition cd which was actually made to look like a library book. Sadly this special edition is terrible. I can beleive...
Published on Jun 15 2003 by Mark
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than previous efforts,
5.0 out of 5 stars A sumptuous masterpiece,
It's not quite that simple, of course. Their sixth album may see Radiohead pulling back a little from the electronica-injected, multi-textured soundscapes of both 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' but it's by no means 'OK Computer', part II. 'Hail To The Thief' rather occupies a confident, half-way ground; it's the sound of Britain's most consistently challenging chart act achieving some kind of equilibrium, finally at ease both with themselves and with their status as this country's sole, meaningful commercial rock band.
Thom Yorke has described the album as Radiohead's "shiny pop record", which is of course his little joke. The title refers to George Bush's dubious election result in Florida and titles such as 'We Suck Young Blood' and 'Myxamatosis' imply that love songs are again thin on the ground. Themes of paranoia, ignorance, systemised political deceit, powerlessness and evil abound, but although Radiohead don't deny having a serious agenda, they have no interest in music as manifesto. "Are you such a dreamer, to put the world to rights?" are Yorke's first words (in '2 + 2 = 5'); he understands that it's a futile exercise, which is why his band concentrates rather on shining the light of their intelligence on the world around them, then reflecting it back at us, brilliant tunes attached.
There's an overall intensity and malevolent, looming gloom on 'Hail To the Thief', due to the fact that Yorke's initial inspiration for these 14 songs came from solitary, dusk drives around the countryside near his home, but this intensity is given a wide range of expressions: the gorgeous 'Sail To the Moon' is so loose and sweetly fluid it threatens to drift off and disappear for ever; the rhythm-driven 'The Gloaming' recalls nothing so much as 'Flat Beat'; 'We Suck Young Blood' - with its slow hand claps and vocal harmonies - is plain funereal in its chilliness; the brief guitar outbursts in 'Go To Sleep' are ragged and dirty as anything by Neil Young; but 'Backdrifts' sets woozy, techno-atmospherics and hammering keys against breakbeats so crisp they might well have been crumbed and deep-fried.
It's startling that a commercial rock band could sound this blood-and-oxygen vital, this meaningful and mighty six albums into their career. That nothing less is now expected of Radiohead is proof of just how extraordinary their talent is.
3.0 out of 5 stars Get the normal version,
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds Expectations,
Kid A suprised the world with its electronic bleep-and-swirl jive, but Amnesiac was dismissed (by some) as just another set of songs from the same mould. But Amnesiac showed Radiohead maturing in its use of autre, electronic jiggery pokery into fluid natural textures, making use of them just as they do any other instrument, witnessed in "Pyramid Song" and "Spinning Plates" both of which are heavily doused in electronics but sound as if they could have come from any decade in modern music.
Hail to the Thief takes this concept further and shows a band very comfortable with who they are and their abilities. They no longer feel the need to experiment so deeply to show their "artsiness" and as a result, simply rock. But don't expect them to "Bends rock" or even "OK Computer rock" for that matter.. this band may be comfortable playing real instruments again, but they are definately not stupid enough to backtrack or devolve musically. The songs here comprise a certain angst that seems so true to todays world, full of lyrics about self-doubt, insecurity, mistrust in others, and the choice of whether to become involved, or watch it at home on the television. We need this album today, and we need Radiohead today, to be telling their message. There are many more radical bands out today, many with harsher views or more personal involvement. But no band as popular as this even comes close to having the balls to name a cd "Hail to the Thief" at a time when country stars get blackballed for simply not liking George Bush. Their mission goes well beyond him though, and is a wake up call to everyone in the world, in their comfy homes, to realize what is going on.
To all the people who wish for a return to their simpler roots, would you have wished for the Beatles to make another "Meet the Beatles" directly after "Sgt. Peppers?" Would music be the same today if they had reverted? I don't think so. Despite sentimental value, Bends-era Radiohead isn't coming back... and this is a good thing in the long run. Nothing can survive long if it doesn't adapt, change, or evolve, and this is especially true for popular bands today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I sat in the cupboard and wrote it down in neat...,
This review is from: Hail to the Thief (Audio CD)The latest Radiohead album, Hail To The Thief, is actually a tricky one to review. While it can't be denied that it doesn't match their two classics, The Bends and OK Computer, it is still a piece of art that proves the genious of Radiohead and shows some real music in comparison to today's majority of acts who are either schematic, uninspired, silly, or absolutely devoid of any talent.
One thing I'll have to admit is that so far I have listened not to britpop or alternative rock, but to American alternative post-grunge metal or, if you will, to much-hated nu-metal. And it is noteworthy that Hail To The Thief was the album that showed me how wrong I was.
The secret of Radiohead's music lies, in my opinion, in its unexplaiable expression. It was of course present on The Bends and OK Computer, but, as the new album is considerably less melodic than both, it is one of the first things that attract the listener's attention and make him fall in love with the music. Radiohead's ability to express feelings or states of mind or to recall situations from life in their music is untopped. Tom Yorke's vocals and lyrics (on Hail To The Thief they are deliberately 'childish' - just read the song titles - but it really helps settle the mood, making the album a slight medieval gothic flavour) suit the instrumental parts ingeniously well and alltogether they paint a wonderful atmosphere.
Some listeners say Hail To The Thief hasn't got a topical unity as OK Computer did, but I have to disagree and point out that the feeling of doom, end, and inevitable danger can be seen in any of the album's 14 tracks, giving the album a universal, apocalypthic side that so far has been absent in the group's catalog. Tom Yorke explained that the main topic of the album, and the second title, is 'the Gloaming', which means that bad times have come to people who were unaware, 'not paying attention'. Just listen to the eponimous track and read the lyrics. I believe you'll get the feeling.
As to the musical side of Hail To The Thief, virtuosity and subtle, layered arrangements remain part of Radiohead's music like on previous releases and can be witnessed on every track. However, some songs include non-electronic instrumentation which is pleasant to hear and, although it is definitely not 'coming back to the roots', it makes the album more adventurous and, yes, more fun. Rocking songs are followed by more electronic ones, or by piano-driven pieces that help the record avoid the occasional dullness of its two predecessors.
The songs themselves are versatile also, and offer different dynamic and tempo changes. While, as I mentioned before, they are perhaps not so melodic and instantly memorable as on The Bends and OK Computer, the songwriting has improved even further. As on Kid A and Amnesiac, Radiohead don't usually use traditional verse-chorus song structures and this only demonstrates their immense imagination. Perhaps the most catchy tunes are 2+2=5, There There, A Punchup At A Wedding and Where I End And You Begin. However, there are songs that show the group's ralents equally well, such as Go To Sleep, Myxomatosis and I Will which all paint emotional pictures that get stuck in your mind. The only song that drags a bit to me is We Suck Young Blood, but anyway it is supposed to capture the feeling of devil's coming which anyone can hardly like.
So the bottom line would be that this album is highly recommended to people who like either Radiohead themselves, today's alternative rock or simply atmospheric, emotional, expressive, beautiful music. One of the best bands in the world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hail!,
It opens with a strange electronic sputter, which slowly melts into a guitar melody, and the sound of Thom Yorke eerily singing, "Are you such a dreamer/to put the world to rights?" Otherworldly sound effects and entrancing rock music continue all through this album, with Yorke's singing warming up those cold songs.
The heart of these songs seems to be helplessness and sorrow; even panoramic piano pop like "Sail To the Moon" seems unhappy. But there are also eerie melodies, sweaty tribal pop, and chilly electropop laced with explosive percussion. There's even the acoustic "Go To Sleep," a folky number that stands alone in this blippy rock collection.
If you pick it apart, "Hail To The Thief" echoes Radiohead's past work: the styles of "The Bends," "Kid A," and others can be heard woven in there. For most bands, this would be a disaster. But Yorke and his band actually make it work -- their sound gets a little cluttered at times, yet the fusion of musical styles is nothing short of astounding.
"Hail" is not Radiohead's best album -- it doesn't have the intensity and purity that some of their other collections do. But it does pack a punch. Radiohead's "fusion" sound seems very cold and mechanical... until the melodies change. Sometimes it's an explosive riff or a rhythmic drum, or the whole song will simply speed up. The melody will warm up for a moment, only to get chilly again when it slows.
But a lot of the atmosphere has to be credited to Thom Yorke; while Yorke is often dissed for his high, dispassionate voice, here he seems to have emotions boiling just under the surface. And the odd note of his voice makes him sound almost ghostly. Which suits the music, by the way -- would a more robust voice sound as good against a cold, eerie backdrop?
"Hail To The Thief" uses most of Radiohead's past styles, and mishmashes them together into a surprisingly good album. Eerie, despairing and thoroughly entrancing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hail To Radiohead,
This review is from: Hail to the Thief (Audio CD)Radiohead, as a band, clearly have a mission. To unequivocally prove to the world, that they are the most creative and original band of their generation. Well, in that case, 'Mission accomplished boys'. Tom and the guys give us another master piece which is head to toes full of colossal music, impeccable production and deeply meaningful lyrics.
My favourite tracks from 'Hail To The Thief' are the very boundaries of the album. Track 01, '2+2=5' and the closing tracks of the album 'Scatterbrain'
4.0 out of 5 stars And 'richly rewarded' I have become... (4.5 stars),
5.0 out of 5 stars 2+2 = 4 in this case,
4.0 out of 5 stars Without Peer,
"Hail" only gets 4 stars because you can only compare Radiohead to Radiohead and "OK Computer" and "Kid A" are the gold standard.
Radiohead is a growing, linear band that evolves over time. The greatest wonder is always what they will create next, because where they go hasn't been discovered yet.
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Hail to the Thief by Radiohead (Audio CD - 2003)
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