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Rated One of the Best Rock Albums of 2022 by The Absolute Sound!
"Not The Smile as in ha-ha-ha, more The Smile as in the guy who lies to you every day"... so speaks Thom Yorke on the inspiration behind the name of the trio consisting of himself, his Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood and drummer Tom Skinner of UK jazz outfit Sons of Kemet.
The description is borne out by The Smile's acerbic first single "You Will Never Work In Television Again", a 2:48 blast of ragged, raw energy that moved The New York Times to rave: "Over a bruising 5/4 beat and flailing guitars climbing through three chords, Yorke snarl-sings his avenging fury at 'some gangster troll promising the moon' who'd devour 'all those beautiful young hopes and dreams,' and you can almost feel the spittle flying."
Additional singles "The Smoke", "Skrting the Surface" and "Pana-Vision" - which epically closed the series finale of hit show Peaky Blinders - followed with equal critical acclaim; all are collected on The Smile's first album, A Light for Attracting Attention, produced by Nigel Godrich.
The album also features strings by the London Contemporary Orchestra and a full brass section of contemporary UK jazz players including Byron Wallen, Theon and Nathaniel Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Robert Stillman and Jason Yarde.
The Smile debuted three live shows in early 2022 at Magazine in Greenwich, London, with NME writing: "It's a stunning show - of course, it should be. This is an Academy Award-nominated composer, a Mercury-nominated jazz drummer and... well... Radiohead, and they've brought all their toys to share. All hail The Smile."
There's something here for fans of any era, but as a reference for longtime devotees, A Light for Attracting Attention bests The Eraser as Yorke's finest non-Radiohead effort and falls somewhere amongst A Moon Shaped Pool and King of Limbs in terms of scope and daring. As such, diehards should be quite pleased with this release: an utterly satisfying set of songs that stands tall on its own, yet could easily climb the ranks against any of Radiohead's late-era efforts.
Progressive and psyche influences abound: 'The Opposite' is rife with King Crimson Discipline-era jagged time signatures and repeating guitar riffs, as is the hazy 'Thin Thing.' The three-chord rocker 'You Will Never Work in Television Again' is something you might expect from U2, with a title and lyrics that touch on the meaning behind the band's name, which alludes to the lies that hide behind a smile. The previously unreleased 'Skirting on the Surface' is left over from Radiohead's In Rainbows (2007). The angst-ridden, synth-driven 'We Don't Know What Tomorrow Brings' would fit easily on Radiohead's Hail to the Thief (2003), as would the haunting, reverb-drenched piano ballad 'Open the Floodgates.'
The Smile have a skip in their step and Yorke and Greenwood haven't sounded this engaged since perhaps In Rainbows. We certainly hope Radiohead are not done. but a second The Smile record, which seems likely given the amount of new songs in their tour setlists, would be very welcome.
No Radiohead side project has ever sounded quite as much like Radiohead as this band does, invoking many eras of the band's career at once. I assume I Can't Believe It's Not Radiohead! was a rejected album title.
- Double LP
- Trio Comprised of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood & Tom Skinner
- Produced by Nigel Godrich
- Gatefold Jacket
- 2 Printed Inner Sleeves
- Artwork by Stanley Donwood & Thom Yorke
- The Same
- The Opposite
- You Will Never Work in Television Again
- The Smoke
- Speech Bubbles
- Thin Thing
- Open the Floodgates
- Free in the Knowledge
- A Hairdryer
- Waving a White Flag
- We Don't Know What Tomorrow Brings
- Skrting on the Surface