Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

by paul_guyet Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-10-03

Thom Yorke is a pretty innovative guy, yes? We can agree on that? Good, so I’m going to skip over the part where I remind you of how Radiohead chose to distribute In Rainbows and the whole “releasing this surprise album through BitTorrent so he can see if it might serve as a viable method for artists to etc.”.*

Cool? Excellent.

Overall, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes could be considered to pick up right where The Eraser left off in 2006. Probably not AMOK**, as TMB isn’t as intricate; not that that’s a bad thing. I find Yorke’s voice works best when it has empty spaces to fill and bounce around in. The album’s opener, 'A Brain in a Bottle', is probably my least favorite track here, which is good, because I like it.

The dark waves of 'Guess Again!' are fantastic, Yorke is a goddamn gloom sculptor. The warbly, NES dungeon feel of 'Interference' is downright chilling, finding a grudgingly repentant Yorke sitting in his sunken ruins, the One, True King of Gray. Things get a little brighter on 'The Mother Lode' (on which I could see Waronker or Refosco lending some skitters)***, but it’s a nervous brightness, you’ll want to squint or you might hurt your eyes.

The hyper jitters of 'The Mother Lode' are juxtaposed nicely with the syrupy, almost lazy, faux-hip-hop beat of 'Truth Ray'. Then, the last three tracks evolve from percussive, glitchy boink into blurred, saturnine rivers into, finally, dolorous etheria. The second of those last three, 'Pink Section', makes me want to wonder what a full instrumental release from Yorke would sound like.

Whether people consider Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes a 'real' album or not, it's a good album, lacking only the months and months of costly promotion real fans don't want or need. It becomes an even better album when you consider that Yorke could have used anything to test out this method of distribution. More artists should surprise their fans with flowers and candy made of new music more often. They'd probably get more head. Keep it up, you groundbreaking, space alien trendsetter, you.

* As far as the question of “will this manner of distribution work to revolutionize blah blah blah”, I’m leaning towards no, as a lot of (uninformed) people do not and most likely will not ever trust anything with the word 'torrent' in the description, the filthy Luddites.

** If you’re not familiar with AMOK, why are you reading the review of a Thom Yorke solo album? PS: Here’s my review of AMOK.

*** Drummer and percussionist (respectively) who’ve both worked with Yorke.

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