Early Eraser reviews: "Irritating, ticking bullshit"
Remember how I told you that Thom Yorke is about to release one of the most innovative records of the year on Tuesday? Well, pretty much every one else disagrees with me. Here are just a few of the snarling reviews I've been reading -- hot off the press -- in the last few days.
The Guardian: 60% "The Eraser is no more experimental than the average Radiohead album. In fact, it sounds exactly like you would expect a Thom Yorke solo album to sound: twitchy electronic beats, doomy washes of synthesizer, backing vocals that are invariably high, wordless and ghostly, except on Skip Divided, where they literally involve whimpering. The lyrics are one long defeated sigh, interrupted by the occasional tut and roll of the eyes. We are variously informed that there's no light in the dark, time's running out for us, things are fucked up, it gets you down and people get crushed like biscuit crumbs. Even the guitar on The Clock sounds like it's grumbling. At its worst, The Eraser brings to mind the unlikely image of Autechre fronted by Private Frazer off Dad's Army: thump, bleep, splonk, we're all doomed, I tell you."
The Scotsman: 40% "The album then pulses out on the anticlimactic Cymbals Rush, which is little more than computer bleeps - not just any computer bleeps, mind, but old school Amstrad computer bleeps, or the kind of supercomputer featured in 1970s conspiracy movies. Strangely, this is the track which has cropped in the Radiohead live set. Ultimately, The Eraser is little more than a collectable curiosity to tide us over until the main missive next year. But let's hope Thom had some fun for once."
And, my favorite:
Somethingawful.com: 0% "Here’s a little bit of history, just in case you’re twelve years old or something: There once was a band called Radiohead who made two pop-rock albums, followed by a gigantic nerd opus called OK Computer that set the world’s population of dweebic collegiate brow-furrowers on fire like so many lighters at a Bon Jovi encore. After that, Thom Yorke had a stroke and forgot how to make words with his mouth, and Jonny Greenwood decided that he was too smart for tunes. Since then, they’ve been periodically plopping out bewildering hunks of semi-musical garbage which nerds pretend to enjoy in order to seem smart.
While Radiohead’s release schedule isn’t too regular, they are certainly prolific in one regard: the albums they occasionally do release are so jam-packed with stupid ideas that even the most voracious consumer of failure will be tided over for a good many years. However, within the constraints of a band so meticulous and perfectionist about giving each and every bad idea the mucous-shine of overwrought humorlessness, Thom Yorke found himself cooking up more bad ideas than could be accommodated by their plodding schedule. Nerds rejoice: Yorke’s po-faced pretension has finally burst the Radiohead dam, and a muddy tide of bad ideas is now spilling toward you like a tidal wave.
Unfettered by the musicality of his bandmates, Thom Yorke is now free to develop his music in whatever direction he sees fit. Judging by the prevailing sonic trends on The Eraser, that direction is “clicking and moaning.” While the record is comprised of approximately 45% clicks and 35% moans, Yorke puts his sonic genius on display by bunging the cracks with liberal smattering of beeps, bonks, shuffles, grating monotone loops, and a whirring cavalcade of sundry electronic nuisances.
Basically, imagine a Radiohead album with all the music removed and replaced by irritating, ticking bullshit.
Oh, silly me, that’s what the last three and a half Radiohead albums have sounded like anyway. How about this: imagine that Radiohead had all their musical instruments stolen and yet were contractually obligated to deliver an album in one hour.
You know what? This is all too complicated for something so fundamentally simple. Just imagine that Thom Yorke made a really boring, dashed-off solo album cobbled together exclusively from the worst elements of Radiohead’s recent career and lacking entirely in redeeming features. Now imagine Pitchfork Media ejaculating out their fingertips and every nerd you know not shutting the fuck up about it, ever. This record is seriously terrible, and when I say “seriously,” don’t mean that I’m serious about the album being terrible, I mean that the album is serious about being terrible.
Addendum: 22% of the letters in Thom Yorke’s name are superfluous. Fuck him.
Of course, the big motivators/influencers have yet to weigh in -- Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, could you really trash this good of a record?