Review : Radiohead - Hail to the Thief: Special Collectors Edition
PitchforkBy 2003, Radiohead were trapped in a musical era they helped invent. By that time, they had essentially completed the ideal life cycle of a rock band, rising from an intermittently promising debut to become one of the world's biggest bands, creators of twin masterpieces that captured the fear, exhaustion, alienation, and anxiety of modern life in near-perfect musical settings. There is no rock record that did more to set the tone and establish the parameters for rock music in this still-young century than Kid A, an intentional masterpiece so brimming with creativity it spawned a sequel in Amnesiac.
How does a band follow that up? Well, for one thing, it doesn't try to make another masterpiece. The record Radiohead did make, Hail to the Thief, is almost an anti-masterpiece, a well-sequenced collection of songs that finds them internalizing the blend of experimental electronics and straightforward rock they wore so far out on their sleeves just a few years earlier. They basically started over, and on the record, the band sounds aware that it's peaked in a way, and perhaps less sure of where it wants to go. I hear the tension between a band that started to make the back-to-basics album guitarist Ed O'Brien so frequently mentions in interviews and a band that self-consciously want to do something new each time out and perhaps even feels guilt when it fails to innovate. They'd pushed their horizons so far already that they didn't have much exploring left to do....full text
PopmattersThere's no amount of money in the world that could persuade me to spend a minute in Thom Yorke's shoes right now. Even though the prospect of learning some of his spastic dance moves makes it awfully tempting, the pressure must be just too unbearable to withstand. He is, after all, the de facto leader of the most popular rock 'n' roll band in the world, who for the second time in his band's 10-year career has had to prove that Radiohead is an entity worthy of all the critical acclaim and rabid adulation it receives. But instead of buckling under the weight of all that expectation and spending five years on some overwrought faux masterpiece, Yorke and his bandmates did what any truly great rock band would do -- ignore everyone and make the record they felt like making.
Back at the end of March though, it seemed as if Hail to the Thief (so titled in honor of George W. Bush's "stolen" presidential election) might not be such a triumphant step for the band when an unmastered version of the entire album leaked and immediately spread like a virus over file-sharing networks. Disappointment ensued after listeners couldn't equate the faint glimmers of brilliance and altogether flat production with the cutting-edge standards the band is normally associated with. As it stood then, the record had no continuity, no stylistic cohesion, nothing to suggest it was anything more than a bunch of new songs that hadn't progressed much at all beyond their live previews from the previous summer's tour....full text
NmeRadiohead : Hail To The Thief
...a band still coming to terms with the puzzle of what to do after you've made an album universally hailed as one of the greatest ever...
May 1, 2003 | 3 Comments
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When 'OK Computer', Radiohead's third album, swept aside all competition in 1997's end of year polls, it did so for a good reason. Not only was it a toweringly complex and beautiful record, but alongside releases from Spiritualized ('Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space') and Primal Scream ('Vanishing Point') it also seemed to point to a new spirit of adventurousness and experimentalism after the musical primitivism of Britpop....full text
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