Rhythm & Views

Thom Yorke

We get it. Radiohead is clever, experimental and popular--a rare trio. And, of course, it's no secret that Yorke and his uniquely soaring/undulating vocals are primarily responsible. Although this (seemingly) presupposes that Yorke's solo work will be unequivocally genius, you would have to be a dunce not to foresee the derisive split between his arty and arctic sensibilities and the blossoming melodies and tones of Radiohead.

Appropriately, The Eraser absolutely slays ... or falls flat, depending on your tastes. Tetchy and glitchy, the album is a brisk exercise in paranoia that succeeds if your tastes are more Kid A than OK Computer. Consider it Yorke's Nebraska--the two are certainly akin with their spartan soundscapes and solo jaunts into desolation--albeit for the 21st century. In fact, with its bare instrumentation lap-pop ambience, this album makes Kid A sound like garage rock.

Examples: "The Eraser," where Yorke intertwines stuttering piano and preprogrammed drumbeats with his desperate wail; "Atoms for Peace," where Yorke's choked melancholia is held up by glimmering electronics; and "And It Rained All Night," where rattling bass and scat singing are haloed by the sounds of dissonant dread.

In perhaps a direct acknowledgement that The Eraser isn't for everyone, "Black Swan" stands as the album's mission statement. Over an assault of looping electronics, Yorke intones "This is fucked up / fucked up." It echoes the album's ability to distance unwilling listeners, exercise personal demons and bemoan the current deluge of international fuckups. Now that's pretty chilly.