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Hail to the Thief – Radiohead

Hail To The Thief

(2003), 8.5/10
For the first time in Radiohead’s history, Hail To The Thief fails to open up any new avenues for the group to explore. The textural cut and paste of their previous pair of albums is still present, but has been toned down into more conventional song structure with more standard instrumentation; it would have served as a helpful bridge between OK Computer and Kid A. The lyrics are back to OK Computer‘s paranoia at the state of modern society; the title is a reference to George W. Bush’s controversial US presidential election win. There’s plenty of great material; the single ‘There, There’ has a unique marching ballad feel, with the guitars belting out a gentle rhythm under the plaintive melody. The reflective piano inflected ‘Sail To The Moon’ might be the prettiest song Radiohead have recorded yet, although ‘Scatterbrain’ certainly runs it close. ‘Myxomatosis’ trudges astride a huge fuzzy synth-bass line, while ‘A Punchup at a Wedding’ cruises with a stylish piano riff. It’s arguably a little overlong, but Hail To The Thief is another excellent album in one of the best catalogues in rock music; it may not be as ambitious as what’s come before, but there are just as many good ideas as ever.

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