#60 The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention

Top sixty baaaaaaybeeeeeee! Let’s ‘ave a fukkin paaaaaataaaaaaay!

Hahahaha! Yes! Been posting that exact meme for more than five years now! Aaaaaw, I feel all nostalgic now. I don’t want to give myself too much credit though, as I’ve only been using that classic bantz meme for five or six years, whereas Radiohead themselves haven’t released a good album for fifteen years now, so they’re obviously far more committed to their ‘bit’.

So yeah, Radiohead are one of my favourite bands, and I was really looking forward to this debut album by a band featuring Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood.

I want to start off by saying that I’m not being Schrödinger’s Douchebag here, I do stand by the sentiments creatively advanced in that aforementioned classic meme. Radiohead have produced four of the greatest albums in music (three of them in a fucking row, in a mini imperial phase to put alongside Prince’s early eighties output). They have also produced maybe three of the most influential albums in music history (that same run!). Maybe four, actually, now I think about it… I don’t expect every album of theirs to achieve the same artistic success, just that so many of their other albums not be so m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m

‘The King of Limbs’ was

Oh God, ‘Heart Shaped fucking Pool‘ was especially

And… OK, that’s it since their incredible ‘In Rainbows‘, they haven’t actually released much in the last fifteen years. Because they’re lazy posh boys.

*sniff* Thank you for your service

One perhaps notable oddity among the band’s output over the past twenty years though, is how Thom Yorke’s solo stuff is so often the highlight. I’d obviously put ‘In Rainbows’ top in a ranking of all Radiohead members’ musical output over the past twenty years, but I’d probably put Yorke’s ‘ANIMA’ second. I was quite dismissive of Yorke’s 2006 debut ‘The Eraser’ in that ‘ANIMA’ post, but I’ve revisited it again recently and… Fuck me, it fuuuuuuuuucks (let’s all listen to Harrowdown Hill again. Dink-dink, dink-dink, dink-din-doo…) so I’d probably place that third. Fourth? I dunno, the soundtrack to ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ that Greenwood did or something. Then… erm… ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes‘? ‘Atoms for Peace‘? Whatever, my point being that there’d be a lot of solo albums before you got to something like ‘Hail to the Thief‘. Why? Because that album is also m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m

Sorry, I doubt I’ll get to use that MJF gif many more times in this year’s list (none of the top 60’s albums are very ‘mid’ at all), so thought I’d scratch my itch multiple times on this entry. Why? Well, because

OK, Alex, come on, focus

OK, so a non Radiohead album by Thom Yorke? Yes please, feed me more, pump it straight into my anxiety. And ‘A Light for Attracting Attention’ is almost amazing. Weirdly, it’s low points come when Yorke and Greenwood seem to be keen to retread the ground already ventured to in the previous Radiohead album ‘Moon Shaped Poo’ (that’s not a typo. It was – need I remind you? – m-m-m-m-m… no, sorry, I’ve stopped now). It suggests that the band was only formed so that Thom and Johnny could continue making the same sort of (mid!) music they obviously enjoyed making on that last (mid!) Radiohead album, only away from the ‘Radiohead’ banner so that they could avoid accusations of repeating themselves or rehashing old ideas. It’s hard to shake this idea on some of the album’s more aimless and repetitive sonic tome poems – which are technically good and impressive, but, come on guys, do I need to get that meme out again? – that this is all stuff we’d heard the two do before.

However, it’s when The Smile pull away from ‘Moon Shaped Poo’s sound that the record becomes brilliant. There’s a kind of ethereal beauty in tracks like Speech Bubbles and Free in the Knowledge that I’d swear that these were two of the only people in the world with the ability to translate into music. It’s such a treat to hear that inert ability being allowed to properly prosper.

So, yeah, gorgeous stuff. I’d say it sounded like Radiohead, but that’s suggest that it was all too often m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m

OK I’m done…

BandCamp

2019 #6

2014 #73

(Thom Yorke)

2013 #45

(Atoms for Peace)

68 in 2016

5 in 2007

(Radiohead)

Metacritic: 86

OK fans, one more time:

2 thoughts on “#60 The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention

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