[XL Recordings - July 11 2006]
*Sixeyes Score: 6 out of 10
It should be obvious, but it's not: A review of The Eraser from a casual Radiohead fan :: by Chris Cummins
Dear readers, I’ll be honest with you. I think Radiohead is kinda bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I think they have some amazing songs from way back, "Creep" straight on through to "Where I End and You Begin." But I find them to often be self-indulgent and tortured to the point of self-parody. After watching Meeting People Is Easy and seeing how uneasy the band was with the whole publicity machine, I became convinced that they believed they could release anything and critics would praise it as a work of genius. Seeing how a good chunk of Kid A reviews cite the brilliance of such lyrics as "yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon" I think I may be on to something. Before you knew it, they were featured on a Rolling Stone cover saying that they had to destroy rock and roll in order to save themselves. Being rich and British is a bitch, isn’t it?
But I digress. My point is that I personally feel they are a pretty good rock band who got big unexpectedly and started to believe their own hype. In essence, the glowing praise and largely sycophantic fanbase they had, afforded them every opportunity to indulge in whatever unfocused experimentation they wanted to, simply because they could. I think Hail to the Thief was a huge leap back towards coherence, and with the release of The Eraser, Thom Yorke may just win himself back some old fans who have replaced their fandom for him with Sufjan Stevens. (Whose backlash should be coming right about now. Hipsters are such a fickle lot). You’ve already downloaded this album a month ago, and Yorke’s a bit too big to be covered here anyhow, so I’ll keep this brief.
It’s probably the most coherent thing he’s been involved with in a decade. Mostly guitarless, plenty of bleeps and bloops for the kids and two of the best songs I’ve heard all year "Black Swan" (featured in A Scanner Darkly) and the pointed "Harrowdown Hill," inspired by the death of UK scientist Dr. David Kelly. Yorke’s still alienated in a dreamy MySpace crush kinda way ("the more you erase me, the more that I appear" he croons on the title track) and Nigel Godrich’s production has rarely been better than on the soaring Cirque du Soleil mindfuck that is "Analyze." Despite what you may have heard, the disc won’t change your life, but it's often damn good. If I can go into rock critic pullquote mode (i.e. bullshit) mode, let me say that if Kid A is the bullied loner at school, The Eraser is his oversexed older brother. Wait, you think that doesn’t make any sense? See how irritating being Idioteque can be?
+ harrowdown hill
Chris Cummins is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and a gentle giant of a man who will be sporting a different configuration of facial hair each time you see him, if he ever left the house that is. Love him, scorn him, fear him. Or just pay him. He needs dough like anyone.