By Thom Yorke
When the news first arrived that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke was to release a solo record it came as a bit of a surprise, certainly considering Radiohead were currently in the middle of a tour and busy recording their highly anticipated seventh album, however, many felt Thom would go solo at some point... it was only a matter of time.
The product of several years of Thom's songwriting, "The Eraser" is an experimental electronica record produced by the long-time Radiohead studio-man Nigel Godrich, released on XL Recordings (home to the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Basement Jaxx and Devendra Banhart).
Lyrically "The Eraser" is a typically melancholic affair with many political references (including the subject of global warming) but the lyrics still manage to remain hugely accessible. Some moments seem unsurprisingly a little Bjork inspired and you can often draw comparisons with the talented American singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright in terms of Thom's vocal technique. Yorke's haunting and beautiful vocals are arguably at their very best here... Thom sounding as emotionally powerful as ever.
The electronics are perhaps a little raw in terms of contemporary electronica techniques and production, but they provide a more than reasonable template for Thom's vocal talents. Dark, haunting synths and interesting percussive elements sit adequately alongside conventional method to help create a cinematic experience. In many ways it's an album that draws similarities with the more experimental Radiohead releases of "Kid A" & "Amnesiac".
Standout tracks include "Harrowdown Hill" which carries a major hook in the form of the chorus: "we think the same things at the same time" the hook makes it arguably the track with the most single potential (although any single seems highly unlikely) "Atoms for Peace" with Thom's stunning falsetto vocals, the eerie "Black Swan" and "Cymbal Rush" which features a catchy piano riff, although unfortunately, the 'bleepy' electronics seem to wrestle for space with the piano spoiling the experience just a little.
"The Eraser" really manages to capture the imagination. Thom Yorke's abilities as a lyricist and vocalist are unquestionable; he reaffirms just why he's one of the greatest musicians of our generation.
Outstanding. Arguably the best album of the year thus far.