For all their stylistic iterations, global superstars Radiohead have found a base in Thom Yorke’s distinctive, high-toned vocals and melancholic lyrics. ‘A Light For Attracting Attention’, the debut full-length from Thom’s latest musical venture, follows suit. Joined by Radiohead bandmate and guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and Sons Of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner, The Smile aren’t likely to shake associations to the ‘OK, Computer’ creators. The tracks slowly build to emotive crescendos swirling around Thom’s voice, itself as much part of the instrumentation as the full brass section or London Contemporary Orchestra strings.
The obvious distinction arrives courtesy of Tom Skinner’s rhythmic involvement. It drives the unusual sounds of ‘Thin Things’ and the urgent ‘We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings’, pushing Thom and Jonny beyond the conceptual boundaries set by recent Radiohead records. Although mood sits firmly at the centre of ‘A Light For Attracting Attention’, there are broader swipes in tempo and style. It’s telling that the band launched with ‘You Will Never Work In Television Again’, arguably the album’s most forceful outing.
Although subtle, the mood swings come quickly. ‘Thin Things’ gives way to the delicate ‘Open The Floodgates’, and ‘Skrting On The Surface’ (complete with missing i) places a gentle full stop on the record following the immediacy of the previous track. Yet much like Radiohead’s catalogue, it’s the softer tracks that carry the biggest weight. ‘Free In The Knowledge’ thrives on its unsettling melody, complete with heavily ambiguous lyrics. It all feels remarkably familiar, but given the record’s pedigree, that’s far from a bad thing.
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