tue 16/07/2019

CD: Thom Yorke - Anima | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Thom Yorke - Anima

CD: Thom Yorke - Anima

Radiohead frontman's third solo album is his most convincing foray into electronica yet

A man crushed by a mountain... but upside-down. Very Thom Yorke.

Thom Yorke is frontman of Radiohead, a festival-headlining rock band who sell out stadiums all over the globe. His artistic aspirations, however, right back to Radiohead’s Kid A album 19 years ago, often seem to lie elsewhere, in the world of glitching, otherworldly electronica. He’s had mixed success in this area but with last year’s soundtrack to Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria he finally nailed it. Anima proves that album was no fluke.

This is Yorke’s third solo album (excluding the soundtrack), and where its predecessors attempted, sometimes awkwardly, to staple classic song structures to abstract strangeness, Anima just lets go. Yorke and long term production partner Nigel Godrich have mustered a set that emanates unease and anxiety via floating sound patterns. Singing is introduced where necessary rather than via traditional songwriting.

Ghostly, subaquatic beat patterns gurgle amongst flitting melodic synths, redolent of classic Warp Records acts such as Plaid, but Yorke’s sound is more filmic, and he’s adept at layering vocals until there’s sometimes an almost ecclesiastical quality, especially on the psalm-like “Dawn Chorus” with its longing lyric that “I missed something but I’m not sure what.”

Anima is an album of atmospheres with Yorke’s plaintive voice painted in as just another instrument. Where James Blake, who mines a similar seam, has arguably drifted lately into solipsistic whingeing, Yorke pulls back, leaving the melancholy an unspoken feeling. On “Twist”, for instance, the title word is a phantom audible in a mist of cinematic bubbling. Happily, there’s also an internal dynamism, holding listener attention. “I Am a Very Rude Person” and, especially, “Impossible Knots”, are tethered to basslines that have inarguable funk.

The album ends with “Runwayaway”, leaving listeners with the looping line “That’s when you know who your real friends are”. Yorke has said this album had a difficult gestation, undermined by his penchant for self-excoriating angst, but this time he’s filtered such emotions into an impressionist work, allowing them room to expel themselves against convincing electronica. Alongside the Suspiria soundtrack, it’s some of his best work.

Below: Watch a 37 minute Thom Yorke interview with Zane Lowe about his Anima album

Where its predecessors attempted to staple classic song structures to abstract strangeness, Anima just lets go

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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