Wednesday, January 27, 2010

14. Hail To the Thief - Radiohead (2003)

In Rainbows would reveal what a transitional record this 2003 outing is, clocking Radiohead’s move from enigma-riddled electronic-rock of Amnesiac back to OK Computer’s guitar-led art-rock. Still, at the time the change was a bit scary; fourteen songs on a Radiohead record? Music videos? The whole thing felt a bit like a regression… and that’s without mentioning the leaked version, all unfinished and half-cooked, which turned up three months before the album’s June release-date. With so many successes under their belt, was this to be Radiohead’s middling point?

Of course not! All of those happenings couldn’t detract from what is probably Radiohead’s third best album; a brilliant collection that opens with the symbolic warning of Johnny plugging his electric into an amp, and closes with the stream-of-conscious classic ‘Wolf At the Door’. After six years of walking on eggshells, Radiohead were unburdened by legacy or expectation and Hail to the Thief is that well-executed record that freed them – of over-thinking, of EMI, and of being what everyone thought Radiohead should be.

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