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Hail to the Thief

Release Date: 06.10.03
Record label: capitol
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


The Amazing Sound Of...
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent

The world has become an unpleasant place over the last few years, with terrorism entering a new era and war as common as it always has been. Oxford’s finest have long-been associated with producing music for depressing TV shows, but the dark content of nightly news shows has seemingly injected Radiohead with renewed vigour.

True, they were on top of the world when they unleashed OK Computer on the student market and duly took their place as one of the greatest bands kicking around at that time. But Kid A and Amnesiac left fans’ optimistic hearts empty amid a load of self-indulgent nonsense. Hail To The Thief takes its name from the title of a book about George W Bush’s dubious election victory in Florida. That’s all you need to know, because what with Bush and the world’s other tricky customers, this is a Radiohead album that says “Hold on, we’re fed with this rubbish.” It’s a protest album in the finest sense, not all acoustic guitars but instead Radiohead’s own unique brand of cool pop, hard rock and the other stuff we’ve grown to love-the electronic beeps and blips that traverse musical genres.

Hail To The Thief, a 14-track CD, was penned in the months after frontman Thom Yorke had his first child and had his attention drawn to the state of the world. He said: “I wrote a lot of stuff quickly. Most of it was taken from the radio because, suddenly being a parent, I’d be confronted by the radio giving a news report every hour. It was during the Afghan war and it would ring bells in my head. I’d sit there for make mad lists on pieces of paper of the people in the public eye that I had it in for.”

And so the lyrics speak for themselves. The opener, "2+2=5," asks “Are you such a dreamer to put the world to rights?” while "Go To Sleep" declares “We don’t want the loonies taking over.” Or maybe even deeper meaning can be found in The Gloaming, with “Genie let out of the bottle/It is now the witching hour/Murderers you’re murderers/ We are not the same as you.”

The content is deep enough to involve anyone, and thankfully the musical content is also to be commended. "2+2=5" has excellent tunes within its tight structure, "We Suck Young Blood" holds a haunting piano melody and there’s plenty of funky electro to be had in the great "Myxomatosis." But be in no doubt that the centrepiece of Hail To The Thief is the incredible "There There," already getting attention as the first single. The way it builds up and keeps re-inventing itself makes it the best Radiohead song for many a year.

Hail To The Thief is an accomplished album and, for once, Radiohead have delivered everything we hoped they would. 02-Jun-2003 9:25 PM