For those who’re a Radiohead fan, you don’t should be persuaded to take heed to A Gentle for Attracting Consideration. Although the Radiohead prolonged universe has solely been increasing because the launch of A Moon Formed Pool six years in the past, the debut album from the Smile marks the primary time Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have labored collectively on a full report outdoors of their fundamental band. Maybe probably the most intriguing facet of the response to the brand new LP isn’t that everybody appears to agree that it’s one of the best album by a Radiohead aspect challenge, however the truth that it sounds the most like Radiohead. Yorke and Greenwood have been carving their very own distinctive lanes with solo tasks that yield more and more resonant and modern outcomes – Yorke’s final solo LP, ANIMA, is his finest up to now, whereas Greenwood’s profile as a progressive movie rating composer has solely risen in recent times – and it’s changing into simpler to think about a world the place their future releases, nonetheless collaborative, carry virtually as a lot weight as a Radiohead album as soon as did. If one of many implications of A Gentle for Attracting Consideration is that we’ve got to cope with the likelihood that there by no means could be one other Radiohead album, they’ll must be seen as extra of a big occasion than a aspect challenge.
Since making their debut look on the 2021 Glastonbury livestream, there was one thing totally different in regards to the Smile, nevertheless it was exactly as a result of it felt like an offshoot reasonably than a solo endeavor with a gaggle of esteemed collaborators. It’s just about inconceivable to speak at size in regards to the Smile with out turning the dialogue to Radiohead – although, in the event you’re a Radiohead superfan, you’d most likely haven’t any concern writing hundreds of phrases unpacking the cultural prescience of Yorke’s lyrics, Greenwood’s intricate performances, the spaciousness of longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich’s manufacturing, or the brand new dynamism introduced forth by the group’s third member, Tom Skinner, finest recognized for his work with the London jazz quartet Sons of Kemet – all as if it has no reference to something that got here earlier than it. But when we’re being sincere, an enormous a part of what the trio is providing right here comes all the way down to the fun of familiarity, with out the identical burden of expectation. It’s what makes a lot of A Gentle for Attracting Consideration virtually enjoyable, regardless of the characteristically miserablist bent of its lyrical content material.
But it’s additionally unfair to explain the album as a dull try and recreate a particular period or aesthetic related to Radiohead – if something, it’s about injecting these sounds with a brand new sense of vitality and fluidity, about seeing what occurs whenever you let the connections emerge naturally. Actually, there’s a thread from A Moon Formed Pool to this album: you may hear it within the tendency to imbue the songs with an orchestral magnificence, as within the hypnotic ‘Speech Bubbles’, or in the way in which ‘Open the Floodgates’ appears to observe on from ‘Daydreaming’, casting the identical glow even because it revolves round a unique topic. But it surely additionally serves as a bridge between information: ‘Waving a White Flag’ blends the ornate instrumentation favoured on A Moon Formed Pool with the sinister arpeggios of ‘A Wolf on the Door’ from Hail to the Thief, the Radiohead album that has probably the most in frequent with A Gentle for Attracting Consideration. Then there’s additionally ‘Pana-vision’, which recollects Amnesiac’s ‘Pyramid Tune’, whereas the hanging ballad ‘Free within the Information’ appears to return even additional, like one thing from The Bends that’s been fastidiously preserved for the current second, within the vein of ‘True Love Waits’.
Past their flawless execution, there’s one thing fascinating about how the report freely explores these stylistic fusions the place earlier efforts might need sought to interrupt new floor. This makes a tune like ‘A Hairdryer’ more durable to hint again to any explicit album; there’s a little bit of The King of Limbs, a little bit of Yorke’s The Eraser, and perhaps one thing distinctly the Smile about it. For those who’re not a Radiohead fan, you’d have to determine in the event you like several of those albums earlier than listening to A Gentle for Attracting Consideration; I can’t consider a manner it towers any one in all them, besides perhaps Pablo Honey – and even then, that album achieves the type of speedy affect this one constantly, and possibly intentionally, eludes. As a lot as I respect the Smile’s insistence on teasing out however denying the easy pleasure of a memorable hook, I can’t assist however want all of the uneasy rigidity discovered some form of launch.
But this can be a nice debut as a result of it reaches for greater than the type of stunning complexity its members usually excel at; the songs are as knotty and layered as you’d anticipate, however additionally they sound refreshingly looser and spikier than they’d within the context of Radiohead. That is very true of the extra rock-oriented cuts – you would evaluate ‘You Will By no means Work in Tv Once more’ to one thing off Hail to the Thief and even Pablo Honey, nevertheless it’s the right debut single as a result of Radiohead have by no means made post-punk sound fairly this visceral, and you may hear Skinner’s affect driving the monitor. ‘The Smoke’ is equally stunning, using a mesmerising groove however twisting itself into one thing funkier than something within the band’s discography.
Maybe that is the true and easy attraction of A Gentle for Attracting Consideration: listening to gifted musicians uncover new territory in what has lengthy been understood as theirs. It begins with none drums or extra instrumentation, simply Yorke and Greenwood exchanging concepts, eliciting dread as solely they may. Immediately evoking ‘Every part In Its Proper Place’, ‘The Similar’ builds a dystopian environment any Radiohead fan will acknowledge, however Yorke particularly appears extra snug lingering in that unsure area, that acquainted numbness: “After we notice that we’re broke and nothing mends/ We will drop beneath the floor,” he sings on the ultimate monitor. But by observing the current and searching again on the previous, the Smile maintain trying to find a path ahead – or, a minimum of, eerily anticipating it.