Artist: Thom Yorke
Album: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
Album Reviewer: Michael Mariscal
Thom Yorke’s latest album came in the usual fashion–with a surprise and a twist. After hints including a photograph of a mysterious white vinyl posted on the band’s tumblr, and new artwork and music added to their app PolyFauna 2.0, the frontman of Radiohead released his new solo effort last Thursday. The album was released via bittorrent, an application primarily used for pirating movies and music including ironically all of Yorke’s work.
Yorke’s first solo album had exhibited the normal characteristics of a singer’s solo album: he sang over a mostly looped beat, fueling any evolution and energy in each track with his voice. And though he did an excellent job, the lack of support in the music behind him left the album almost boring.
But in his latest release, the album avoids these very pitfalls. The focus appears to have been on the beats and grooves behind the frontman. It’s evident in the mix, but it’s ultimately revealed in the variety and quality of the instruments. The songs generally start with an electronic beat or keyboard riff much like those off The Eraser, but stay fresh through little changes throughout.
As a result, the album has the flow that its predecessor lacked. The side-by-side tracks There is no Ice and Pink Section and Nose Grows Some are separated only in name–though Yorke of course picked one out, there is no time, not even a area in that could be pointed to as the separation of these songs. It speaks volumes to the attention to everything except the vocals, especially considering that Pink Section features Yorke’s vocals only as a heavily manipulated affect.
Overall, this is an excellent album. Though much of the album stays in the sort of gloomy darkness Thom Yorke calls home, brighter songs like Mother Lorde allow this album to be listened to in any state of mind. I plan on listening to this release a whole lot more: I give it a 4.5.