Thom Yorke, lead vocalist of popular rock band Radiohead, released a solo album in the summer of 2006. This album was received generally positively, with most people fawning over Yorke’s cooing voice. I, personally, cannot stand Thom Yorke, and this album is a testament as to why.
The title track and first song on the album, “The Eraser” features piano that upon first listen, seemed to have no particular rhythm to it at all. After what felt like a never-ending intro (33 seconds), Yorke’s voice comes in. It is very soft, and it sounds to me like he is trying to sing without opening his mouth while also not having his lips touch: everything just runs together, and the noise reminds me of a bad ventriloquist that you cannot understand. Personally, I would rather listen to the Child Rebel Soldier remixed version of this song, in which Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Pharrell add their own personal twist, thankfully taking out a significant portion of Yorke’s singing.
The final track on the album, “Cymbal Rush”, also featured an extremely long intro (55 seconds). These long intros could be effective in some situations, but these two particular intros did not change dramatically enough in the time they were playing, so it just seemed to take an unnecessary amount of time to get to the actual song.
I remember the first time I heard Thom Yorke’s solo music right when it came out. The song I heard was the album’s fourth track “Black Swan”. Even at such a young age, I thought this song was an absolute joke. Throughout this song, he constantly says, “This is fucked up, fucked up”. I could not believe this ridiculous repetition was even considered good enough to be playing on the radio (albeit Sirius Alternative Radio, it was radio nonetheless). I enjoy repetition as much as the next music snob, but it did not do anything for this song except remind me how annoying Thom Yorke is. This track also features nonsense mumbling in the background throughout the song that you have to strain to hear, but luckily this draws attention away from the stupid lyrics Yorke is singing on the foreground.
I actually did not mind the song “Atoms for Peace”. Maybe it is because it does not feature a haunting piano so the song does not necessarily sound as depressing as the rest. Thankfully, this song picks up where the album lacks. I also enjoyed the fact that Yorke did not cry the entire song, but actually added a little bit of bass to his voice (at least during the beginning of the song) and the words finally did not sound like they were all blending together.
This whole album reminds me of music that would play in the background of a bad horror movie, specifically the song “Analyse”. The extremely faint piano sounds and Yorke’s moaning towards the end of the song would be the perfect music to play while a horror movie character opens an envelope with a picture of their lover brutally murdered. That’s something I certainly wouldn’t want to see, alongside a song I don’t particularly care to hear.
Although many people feel that Yorke’s voice is one of the stronger characteristics of his music, I personally feel it takes away from the music. Once I focused on how depressing it sounds, and how it seems to just drone on and on, I could barely concentrate on anything else. It became a distraction for me, which is what actually turns me away from Radiohead as well.