Hail to the Thief
First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2003, Volume 10, #9
Written by Michael Cooney
Itís hard to criticize Radiohead. The group is one of the few mainstream bands consistently making truly creative music these days, and one has to admire the manner in which it built its reputation. It was never the focus of MTV airplay, nor was it about looking cool in magazines. It never enjoyed much attention from commercial radio either, but it didnít matter. It succeeded by traversing the underground scene, spreading its seeds through college stations and word of mouth. For Radiohead, it was always about the music, and the music has almost always been superb.
Thatís why the bandís latest release, Hail to the Thief comes as such a disappointment. The album has some intensely vivid lyrics, and interesting song structures, but these things have come to be expected from Radiohead. There are a few bright spots. Scatterbrain and Myxomatosis (with its fat rubbery sounding bass line), are worth putting on repeat, but most of the album is sleepy, unremarkable, and just plain boring.
Undoubtedly, there are Radiohead fans who will enjoy Hail to the Thief, simply because they like the band. And, if a new, unproven group had created the album instead of Radiohead, it might be the start of something promising. In giving the world such beautifully crafted outings as OK Computer and The Bends, however, Radiohead set expectations a bit too high for its future releases. After all, not every band can be brilliant all the time. To say this about Radiohead, is like congratulating a normally "A" student for getting "Cs," and Hail to the Thief is merely average.
46th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Hail to the Thief is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box