Honor to the thief, honor to Radiohead

Honor to the thief, honor to Radiohead

On June 9, 2003, the sixth album was released Radiohead, “Hail to the Thief”. A record in which the English band, after two brilliant but somewhat difficult albums, “Kid A” (read the review here) And “Amnesiac” (read the review here), returned to a more rock sound. Below we suggest you read the review of “Hail to the Thief” which we published at that time.

First consideration, very banal: few groups today are capable of attracting the attention of the rock public like Radiohead.

This is demonstrated by the noise caused by the appearance of “Hail to the thief” online three months before its release in stores. Second consideration: Radiohead reacted to this latest event in a – if we like – somewhat disorganized way. First declaring that he didn't care that they had been “pirated”. Then taking back these words because – they claimed – the songs that ended up online were not in the final version. All things considered, they had some reason. Because the final version of “Hail to the thief” is different from the one circulated in MP3 a few months ago. The changes between one and the other are details, if you like: sonic nuances, songs with different mixes, sounds added here and there. But it is above all from the details that we see the greatness of a group, and this is especially true for Radiohead. Third consideration: listening to “Hail to thief” today, in its definitive version, one can make more or less the same considerations that we wrote when the album began to circulate online: It is certainly an 'easier' album than “Kid A” and “Amnesiac”, with in general a more direct atmosphere and with more guitars, which may suggest a partial return to the more direct but still experimental sounds of “Ok computer”.

Having listened to the album with a little more calm, and having had the opportunity to talk about it with the band, we can add that “Hail to the thief” is an album that takes lessons from the past to look to the future, at least partially recovering that ” song-form” often overlooked.
It's misleading to compare it too much to the band's other records. Because it is true that the electronic experiments “Backdrifts” and “The gloaming” recall some moments of the last two albums; and it's true that the guitars of “There there” or “2+2=5” can do the same for “Ok computer”.

But with this album Radiohead demonstrate once again that they are one step ahead of everyone, precisely because of the way in which they know how to mix experimentation and usability, melody and absolutely original and unexpected sound ideas.

Certainly, as we have already pointed out, the choice in “Hail to the thief” to completely eliminate the difficult instrumental interludes that peppered the last two studio albums contributes greatly to this. And the use of more subtle tones contributes equally explicit in the lyrics of the songs, which are often harsh. The songs directly express pacifist positions: the title – a phrase also contained in the first song, “2+2=5” – refers to an anti-Bush slogan, and in “I will” singer Thom Yorke is heard saying “I'll take refuge in a bunker underground, I won't let this happen to my children”.

In short, more than “honour to the thief”, “honour to Radiohead”. It is certainly too early to say whether or not this “Hail to thief” is a masterpiece like, for different reasons, “Kid A” and “Ok computer” were. Without a shadow of a doubt it is the worthy work of a band with a superior musical mind: those who know Radiohead will not be disappointed, those who don't know them will have a reason to do so.