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Album Reviews

Thom Yorke: The Eraser

By Dean Nelson | December 8, 2006

Thom Yorke: The EraserRadiohead has maintained its reputation as a main attraction in the world of rock music since their breakthrough hit “Creep” back in the early ’90s, even despite poor record sales and limited radio play after that time. The band’s singer, Thom Yorke, has recently released his first solo album, ‘The Eraser’, which combines keyboards and melodic undertones into a sleepy haze.

The title track, the first on the album, starts with an intentionally akward piano arrangement that is later accompanied by a synthesized drum beat and Yorke’s distinct vocals. It’s at this point that you’re forced to decide whether you like it or not, as the rest of the album strays very little from this formula. The songs seem to do little to differentiate themselves, which leaves me with only a mediocre (at best) taste in my mouth.

I went into this album thinking that it would probably sound like Radiohead. For those of you thinking the same thing, you should clear your mind from these thoughts immediately. Although I wasn’t surprised to find that Yorke made good use of electronic devices on the album, as recent Radiohead albums have also done, I was surprised to find that this album doesn’t really fit into the rock camp at all but moreso into electronica. On ‘The Eraser’, Yorke makes heavy use of low-tempo techno music to act as a vessel for his often low-key voice which makes for an ambient, perhaps uninteresting, listening experience.

The title track, the first on the album, starts with an intentionally akward piano arrangement that is later accompanied by a synthesized drum beat and Yorke’s distinct vocals. It’s at this point that you’re forced to decide whether you like it or not, as the rest of the album strays very little from this formula.

Yorke’s lyrics are largely hard to decipher; the only line that I found to be clear in the album was from the song “Black Swan” in which he repeats, “fucked up, fucked up”. In looking up the lyrics for the album online, I’m not too impressed overall; there’s just not much substance or cohesiveness (not like Andre’s poetry). But I didn’t buy the album for the lyrics; the main reason why I bought the album is that I like Yorke’s tone. I really like the inflection and range that he shows in Radiohead’s songs, despite the fact that I often have a hard time understanding his lyrics. Yet, in ‘The Eraser’, I don’t feel the same spirit and liveliness that I felt in Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’.

I mentioned that Yorke’s tone was my main reason for getting the album; my other reason was that I simply wanted to see what he could do on his own. Unfortunately, my answer is, not much. The album as a whole is — bluntly — boring, and I found all songs on ‘The Eraser’ to be easily forgettable. There aren’t any standout tracks. It’s all fairly bland. ‘The Eraser’ could be a great album to fall asleep to, but I generally prefer a little more rock in my roll.

If you’re a fan of spacing out and were considering a soundtrack for your hobby then this album is for you. Honestly though, I just don’t see myself listening to it much. ‘The Eraser’ is good for ambiance, but that’s about it.

Comments

5 Comments. Post Yours Here.
  1. February 2, 2007, 10:13 am Sughosh

    I take it from your quoted Radiohead reference points that you are one of those who has chosen to ignore everything the band did post-OKC. If you’ve heard Kid A and Amnesiac, really The Eraser offers “No surprises” (heh). Yorke has been here and done this before, but The Eraser is perhaps a bit of overkill, too much of songs in the same vein. There are some good moments here and there, but overall it does indicate that Jonny and the rest are needed to bounce off Thom’s ideas (as is the case with Blur, another great band that tends to go a little awry when Albarn is the sole resident dictator).

  2. February 2, 2007, 8:39 pm Dean

    You are correct; after OKC I didn’t get into Radiohead much. I’ve heard a few songs on the more recent albums, but I haven’t listened to them all the way through. Thanks for the nudge to give ‘em a spin.

  3. April 13, 2007, 3:23 pm tixar

    eraser is a good cd because it gets the message across…the message is that it s time u went to sleep for a bit…u ve been working too hard going nowhere….and all your efforts will only result in one thing called death…it backs the point that order and anarchy r just things that happen and nothing is quite ultimate…at point blank…u re just fucked up..and after all the pleasing that s gone into making u a religious/anarchist/stupid/wasted animal…u re still one albeit without a tail…it wud be quite stupid of anyone to expect a rock and roll cd that will rock your rolls (no idea wat that means )… from thom yorke after about 30 years of being with radiohead.
    according to me this cd with the freshness of it has definately told the world a couple of more things about expressing themselves.

  4. March 5, 2009, 3:20 pm subhadip

    When a review starts with “even despite poor record sales and limited radio play after that time”, theres no point in reading the review.

    Radiohead has become the most heard artist in the world after the beatles..so please…get the facts right..Kid A was their first album to reach US No.1..much after Creep…

    And this is a brilliant album which will not be appreciated by people who leaves their brains back home while listening to something…and the absence of the band makes this album sounds like a lonely person with his ideas..which i have never heard in music before…

  5. May 3, 2009, 1:24 am arunav

    I was going through the article and the comments and was forming my post in my head when I came across Subhadip’s which touched the same issues I planned to bring up. Firstly, even I felt it was the most unjust way to introduce somebody like Radiohead, whose initial career, I agree was not as successful; Yorke and co. deserve better.

    Secondly, The Eraser belongs to a completely different genre and it is obviously incorrect to expect ‘Radiohead-like-music’ while opening your ears for it. I hope you’d expected it to be different and give credit to Yorke’s idea to bring this as a separate album – the music theory was meant to be different.

    And honestly, I do not expect you to listen to it and appreciate it as ‘something different.’ As I said its a different street of music and I would not blame you if you didn’t like it; all Im saying is that this probably sounded to you how death metal sounds to my grandma (and she didn’t write a review!). The rest of us still like it, don’t we? I like Black Swan. I think its a brilliant musical work.

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