Thom Yorke has been a busy man. Since the release of Radiohead’s last studio album in 2016, he has composed the Oscar-nominated film score for Suspiria along with the accompanying soundtrack. Now, he has released his third solo album, along with a stunning short film on Netflix.
The album opens with the fretful “Traffic” which embodies the tired anxiety of the London underground. He sings: “Party with a rich zombie / Crime pays, she stays / In Kensington and Chelsea” before uttering the words “I can’t breathe.” Yorke successfully creates an atmosphere with his opening track and sustains this feeling throughout the record, in spite of its shifting moods.
“Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain)” is more somber and vocal orientated. The strange sounds and background noise get easily lost in the soulfulness of Yorke’s voice. It’s tracks like these which remind us why Yorke remains a powerful and unforgettable artist in today’s busy industry.
“Twist” takes us back to Radiohead’s Amnesiac days. It begins by teasing what could shape up to be a seven-minute version of “Pulk (Revolving Doors)” but unfolds into something far more mature and developed. “Dawn Chorus” on the other hand, is quite different from anything we have heard before. It is softer, even romantic and replaces anxiety with what might even be described as hope. He sings: “If you could do it all again / Yeah, without a second thought”.
In the Netflix film, this is one of the three songs which features and is accompanied by Yorke dancing with a beautiful woman he spies on the train. It sounds like we are witnessing a more tender and loving side to Yorke’s catalog, one which we haven’t really experienced since The Bends b-side “True Love Waits.”
Things pick up again with “I Am a Very Rude Person”, which might even be described as a little funky. Album closer “Runawayay” sees the return of the electric guitar in a finale that may even be described as playful with its experimental sounds and “Pulk” throwbacks.
Ultimately, there is no denying that Thom Yorke remains a truly sensational artist who continues to push boundaries. He has a rare ability to create music which channels the hidden inner self and while many artists lose this ability with age, Yorke’s capacity to create raw and exceptional art just grows stronger.