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4.1 out of 5 stars
Hail to the Thief
Format: Audio CDChange
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Showing 1-10 of 54 reviews(2 star)show all reviews
on July 5, 2004
There's been a steady decline in the quality of this band's music since OK Computer and they've reached the nadir with Hail to the Thief. The quality of songwriting on this album is so poor in comparison to their earlier material, part of me hopes they'll break up before they create even more damage to their reputation. Perhaps it was too much to ask for a band to maintain the level that was established on The Bends and the previously mentioned computer, which are two of the best albums of all time. The one thing radiohead were really good at, were writing songs that gripped at your heart; melodies and rhythms so astonishing, so breathtaking, you didn't want the album to end. You were left gasping for more. It was there on Kid A and Amnesiac too, although to a lesser extent. Sad to say, there's none of that on this album. Most of the songs are average at best, and easily forgotten once you've listened to it. The best side (I have the vinyl, more on that below) is side four, which begins with drunken punch up at a wedding and ends with the best song on the album; wolf at the door. But even these will never be in my list of the best radiohead songs. There are none of the brilliant melodies from the prior albums. It's an average record. Can they turn the ship around before they sail over the abyss? I really hope they can.
But right now, they remind me of a star baseball player who's best efforts are in the past and now, is just hanging around a little too long.
One final editorial, if you're a fan, I would recommend getting the vinyl of Ok Computer and the Bends at least (I have all of them). The vinyl pressings are so much more enjoyable to listen to than cd. The sound is fuller, and richer than the brittle sound of the cd's. Vinyl really does justice to radiohead's music. Cheers.
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on January 10, 2004
There are reasons for you to purchase this CD but there are also reasons not to buy it. You have to fit into one category (buy or don't buy) and that is what I will help you decide. You should buy this disc if: 1) You love everything Radiohead has put out to this point, or 2) You have no previous knowledge of Radiohead's past recordings, or 3) You have faith in most critics choice of music.
You should not buy this album if: 1) You list your favorite Radiohead albums in this order, The Bends, OK Computer, Pablo Honey, Kid A, Amnesiac, or 2) Your least favorite Radiohead songs are the ones that nearly put you to sleep or the ones where Thom extends each word to ten times there normal length, or 3) You are looking for an upbeat positive album, or 4) You have a friend who can let you listen to it first(don't take their word for it if they say it is good).
As for other hints to give you I guess just use a thesaurus when you read a review and look up confusing words to see other words they could have used. You probably will come across boring more than once. Please just don't be one of the people who force feed themselves subpar albums, like this one, and regurgitate false genius. For me this album was about 90% of what I don't like about Radiohead. Chances are if there are characteristics about Radiohead you don't like you will hear plenty of them on the album.
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on January 7, 2004
Why any band would want to revisit the uber-boring, completely derivative and uninteresting moanscapes of "Kid A" is beyond me--but that's what Radiohead does here on the already vastly overrated "Hail to the Thief." This is mainly noodling guitar rock with few memorable melodies, but at least it replaces "Kid A"'s looped electric pianos with actual guitars. To say the least, this album is a pale shadow of "The Bends"--the opening tune brings some excitement, but this energy soon dissipates into a sea of annoying paranoia and mumbled lyrics. "We Suck Young Blood" is forgettable and tuneless, "There There" sounds like a poor man's Bjork crossed with The Cure, while "Backdrifts" is pedestrian, sub-Aphex Twin electronica. I find it funny how Massive Attack's "100th Window made all these same mistakes and somehow got slammed by critics, while "Hail to the Thief" was hailed (pun intended) as one of the best albums of the year (and, in some critics' delusional minds, one of the best ever). This is simply not one of Radiohead's best releases--get "The Bends" or "OK Computer" instead.
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on December 21, 2003
I've never really understood the hype behind these guys myself, either. The bulk of their work (especially OK Computer and The Bends) isn't bad - but just so-so. Since the beginning of all the "trust-me-these-guys-are-different" hype, I still hear everyone's Pink Floyd/U2 comparison critiques. But that's just the icing on my cake.
Everyone says that these guys are the true "experimenters", have "real talent" and they are the answer to rock/pop's Golden Age - more than anyone else blah-blah-blah, and it seems that the English music press can't make up their minds who should deserve the most hype (Radiohead, Coldplay, or Robbie Whatshisname). I guess RH experiment to a point. But their 'experimenting' just doesn't grab me.
My roots remain in the 60s/70s era (English and American, mostly English), when everyone was truly let loose and, more importantly, when the major labels allowed them to be. THAT music was and is timeless, organic, and will remain immortal. So, to me, if any new band can top THAT stuff, then you get five stars. But today's bands have to be timeless, organic, and immortal. Radiohead is not the answer. What they're doing has been done already...their musical talents are just more watered-down. (Note I said "musical talents". They write good lyrics. But the music has to make the lyrics sound good, too. That 'perfect marriage' hasn't been accomplished in decades.
'Hail to the Thief' does get political which is cool. But musically, my needs weren't met as usual (sadly, they haven't been in years). And I kid you not...EVERY SINGLE interview I read or hear from any of the older guys or girls (including DJ's, at least the ones who weren't afraid to lose their jobs) say the same thing I am - that they don't want to be a part of today's music and where it's heading. There's no character, no talent, just blah.
And I know I'm going to piss people off when I say this, and that they're sick of hearing it, but I'll say it again and again: THE PEOPLE WHO LIKE THIS MUSIC THINK IT'S GOOD BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T HEARD THE BETTER MUSIC AND BETTER RECORDINGS OF THE PAST. The 60s and 70s was when you had to be DIFFERENT to make it big. So, since that was the case, THAT music is what everyone should learn from to get the true meaning of the word "experiment". Unfortunately, today's rule is the opposite.
The fans think RH are the true 'whatevers' but that's because they haven't heard what I and other old timers have. To the RH fans: it's new and exciting and the future. But to me: it's all been done before...
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on December 19, 2003
I used to have this uncle in the 70's that would argue, usually whenever he was drunk, that Frank Zappa was the greatest rock musician ever. When I was in college, a girl I dated thought I "wasn't very bright" because I didn't "get" the genius of Morrissey.
What does this have to do with Radiohead? Basically, if you have given this or any Radiohead album a 5 star review you're musically challenged. Your judgment is impared. 15 years from now nobody is going to be listening to this crap. Like anyone listens to Zappa and Morrissey today.
Hey, you can like anything you want. I am sure I regularly listen to half a dozen artists you probably don't care for, I just don't go around exaggerating and inflating their talent or importance.
"Radiohead has had a startling impact on contemporary popular music." In what way?
"No band of the 1990s has garnered as much critical and commercial success as Radiohead." Really? How about Nirvana.
I have Pablo Honey and Kid A on CD (and haven't listened to them in years). If you enjoy Radiohead, fine. But don't kid yourself that their music is important or influential. By the time my kids are in college - people will still be listening to original and groundbreaking artists: the Beatles, The Ramones, Nirvana and Radiohead will be forgotten.
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on November 19, 2003
It certainly isn't the ca-ca that was "Kid A" AND "Amnesiac", but it sort of frustrates those who long for Radiohead to make music that actually MEANS SOMETHING! The technical aspects of it, production wise, are satisfactory. The songwriting is o.k., with a few spots of brilliance, like the opening and ending tracks, but mostly it's just a muddled endeavor that manages to creep by(no pun intended) and not suck as much as "Kid A" and "Amnesiac".(I'm still in therapy thanks to those throwaway records)Thom, Thom, Thom...WHERE'S THE PASSION DUDE?????!!! WHERE'S THE BEAUTY OF YOUR LYRICS AND WHERE ARE THE MELODIES???? I can't really reccomend this album. Instead, you should buy, here at Amazon of course, "OK Computer" and "The Bends". It's a shame that Radiohead have continued down the assembly line of techno/meaningless/blip/blip/so called "revolutionary" rock. Ten years from now, I hope to have just ONE record from them that actually means something. Sorry guys, but you're slipping down the tubes. There's more excitement and purpose in a clorox commercial.
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on November 17, 2003
I really badly wanted to like this one. I really badly wanted to like Amnesiac too. Unfortunately, they are both crap, and the sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can begin to teach Radiohead that we will not buy such dross.
See, the thing is... I LOVED OK Computer. I LOVED Kid A. Those two albums are art-prog-rock masterpieces. Their emotional expressionism and musicianship are almost without peer among rock bands today. Being the Pink Floyd fan that I am (they are without a doubt the greatest band ever to grace the earth), I found it logical to assume that a band could make not just two great albums, but a string of them, if they loved their art enough. The Floyd, after all, were the authors of so many classic albums, and though I knew Radiohead could never match such majesty, I at least expected one or two more good albums from them before they crapped out. Sigh... it was not to be.
The wonderful concepts, production, lyrics, and general flair of OKC and KA are not here. This album is marred by horrible production, convoluted structure (I don't think I've ever heard an album with worse flow), pretentious, meaningless lyrics, and underdevelopment. Radiohead themselves admit that a large group of these songs were written as far back as the OKC days, and the whole thing was recorded in a matter of weeks.
It's so painfully obvious that they ran into a wall after Kid A, and they didn't know where they could go after that. The album was a career ender, and Yorke should have dissolved the band after that point. Instead they decide to rehash dead songs and create and album of Radiohead cliches... the drum machines and synthesizers are no longer innovative, Yorke's voice sounds tired and dispassionate and best, downright bitter and frustrated and worst, Greenwood is no longer writing anything groundbreaking on guitar or any other instrument, and Phil Selway's kit sounds like it was miked by hanging a single dictation mic from the ceiling and recording on that.
When Roger Waters realized that his band was going nowhere new, and that their creative potential had dimmed as they grew older, he tried to do the right thing and end it. The legacy was there; there was no need to mar it by continuing on ad infinitum. Though the rest of the band went on to write subpar music for the next 15 years, at least Roger's will was there. Radiohead seem not to care about their musical integrity or legacy... in 10 years this album will be seen as either A) a transitory work, if they manage to reignite the flame for another album, or B) a zeitgeist-grabbing disgrace. I personally believe it to be the latter.
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on October 8, 2003
On a scale of things one could purchase here at Amazon, I suppose you could do worse. "There There" would make a great song by any American indie band, as it is almost entirely ripped off from that genre, bleeding bizarre archaic arpeggiated riffs and feedback like a forlorn Death Cab or Sunny Day outtake. But it sounds suspiciously out of place on this album, and stands out for being excellent, but nothing else is all that worthy to mention. The clunkers, and there are many, pour forth like an already rehashed trendoid-pseudo electronica for Starbucks' employees and black-turtlenecked socially-diseased MP3-heads, riding their respective subways to their skyscraper jobs and bleak existences. Their pain is magnified, as they listen to that lonesome Yorke moan, found especially drippy in "We Suck Young Blood", a travesty so impossible to stomach that it begs the listener to bash this disc into a million pieces. This is not music played for enjoyment, it isn't even music played to comment or editorialize on the despair of urban chaos, as the Radiohead of old seemed to do. This is not even music half the time, but a banal whirr trickling forth from the corners of our respective locales, designed to corrode whatever positive and delightful thoughts we may still have about living. I would ask that you avoid this album and purchase the CD single of "There There" if you are interested in sampling something stellar and exciting, but otherwise, please save your hard-earned wages. Lord (and Yorke) knows you've slaved for it. To blow it on something that only furthers your depressive state might be more than any of us could bear. A bad, bad album.
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on June 21, 2003
No amount of production can hide mediocre songwriting. Almost every single one of these songs is melodically, emotionally, and intellectually unsatisfying (save for A Wolf at the Door--an outstanding song by itself). The structures of 2+2=5 and Sit Down, Stand Up are identical--start quietly, build up to a frenzied end. Sail to the Moon is pretty, but feels hollow, and I don't think it would work if not for the thorough production. There, There sounds like Pearl Jam to me. Nothing special. Yorke has really painted himself into a corner, in terms of his lyrics. It seems all he can write about is perceived end-of-world paranoia. Come on Yorke, do us a favor and turn off CNN. More of us than you know have been "paying attention." As for the rest of the CD, I honestly do not understand why Scatterbrain, A Punch-up at a Wedding, The Gloaming, and Go To Sleep were included. Ultimately this CD continues the downward spiral that began with Amnesiac (a collection of underwritten and under-developed songs that were left over from the stellar Kid A). Come on, Yorke. You can do better.
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on June 14, 2003
Its non-melodious, at times incoherent, and thoroughly depressing. There seem to be no highs, its very monotone, steeped in mediocrity.
I agree, they are songs that sound nothing like what they've done before. Not sounding the same as before is not necessarily a progression musically/lyrically. Even though it sounds different it doesnt sound - 'for lack of a better word' - "epic". It does not sound like an exploration into new territory.
As for 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac', I love them. I rank 'Kid A' not only as one of the great albums of all time but as a profound progression in popular music of the day. Thats not too say they created a new sound, it just means they took 'what was out there at the time 'to a new level', they created something unique and important. Every musician, writer and painter are influenced by the ones that came before them. What makes these people great is their ability to use their influences, to use whats popular at the time, and use the 'classics' of music, literature and art, to create something unique and important while still remaining inside the scope of whats popular.
Yes, 'hail to the chief' sounds like nothing Radiohead has done before, they simply haven't opened any new doors with this material. You can call me greedy for expecting so much from them with each new album, but it's their fault for creating this expectation."
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