The Eraser by Thom Yorke; Review
To begin this review, I would like to say that I have been a fan of Radiohead since I was a boy. I can remember the first time I got hold of a Radiohead album, and the hours and hours I spent up that night listening to each track over and over again in the dark. The album was Kid A, I was fifteen, and I shuffled dazed through school the whole next day.
Let me also say that I am no music expert, but this one needed some press on the site, given the hype surrounding the release of the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows.
In short, The Eraser is as dazzling and haunting as any of Yorke’s efforts in the past. I told you that Kid A captured me, and what Kid A accomplished, The Eraser built upon.
Let’s talk about a few of the tracks. The title track, which opens the album, features a soft-sung Yorke addressing a specific “you” and opening with the question “Are you only being nice, because you want something?” The song continues in this air, eventually culminating in a discussion of how people try to forget one another, and how, sadly, this never works. “The more you try to erase me, the more, the more, that I appear.” The album opens beautifully, with the kind of simple piano, subdued electronic beats, and reliance upon haunting vocal melodies that fans have come to expect from Radiohead songs that focus on love (?) and loss.
The album continues in this same vein throughout most of its songs. Yorke here is expressing loss in a profound way, and using particular tones, soft and fragile, in his voice to accentuate his lyrics. Another example of this can be found in “Black Swan,” a song that reads like an indictment of the “you” that is continually addressed throughout the album. Some of the more poignant lyrics are “People get crushed like biscuit crumbs, And laid down in the bed you made.” Again, the soft melody in Yorke’s voice is backed by subtle percussion, guitar, and synthetic beats.
The album does pick up in places, but this is not the general rule. Songs like “Harrowdown Hill,” “The Clock,” and “It Rained All Night” seem to call back specifically to more energetic Radiohead tracks, including “Idioteque” and “Electioneering,” though still somewhat more subdued. These high points offer a nice variety to the album, not that, with the beauty of all of it, monotony was ever an issue.
For those of you who may worry that Thom Yorke wouldn’t be up to snuff on his own, you’ll be surprised. This album is as strong as many others in Radiohead’s portfolio, and definitely worth a good listen. I have it on vinyl, and on my computer. Is it my favorite of all the albums associated with Thom Yorke? No. But it is a great find, and a perfect way to warm up to the release of Radiohead’s new album.