When Thom Yorke’s not vocally serving in Radiohead reunions, he’s indulging in solo-electronic experimentation…a kind that thrusts fans into a privately weirder dimension than ever unearthed in all of the alt rock group’s 22-years of singularity.
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes succeeds first-album The Eraser (2006), but only after an 8-year break of brainstorming; a lull ended by Yorke’s itching to create–in signature sense-dulling, cloudland convention. Its discreet, internet-only reveal and $6 price tag initially understate the album’s value, but firsthand absorption of its entirety will evoke a gratitude for its unembellished release.
“A Brain in a Bottle”, also the EP’s opener, has Thom Yorke oddity spilled all over it. Buzzing synthesizers speak for him when all he has are falsetto-fied murmurs that may or may not make sense…depending on the listener’s state of mind during the 7, dawdling minutes.
Simply put, the album isn’t up for interpretation. It, like a lot of works of art, just is…which may be a frustrating conclusion to accept, post-listening. But in this same sea of oblivion, one can identify Yorke’s secret to mind-clearing. Him, his falsetto, and the instrumental scenery he chooses to surround his Delphic lyricism naturally dissolve the mind. Sometimes these cryptograms come with pianos, like the dark “Guess Again”; other times, Yorke’s black hole isn’t instrument-heavy, a bareness exemplified on the trance-dabbling “There is No Ice (For My Drink)”.
This tranquil hollowness is really no different than the effects of Ok Computer‘s “No Surprises” or Pablo Honey‘s “Creep”; in all cases, Yorke smacks you with his own desolation over and over until two choruses have passed and you’re numb.
Thom Yorke has been on a 2-decade search for self and Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes communicates–in just 8 tracks–that it’s not ending anytime soon. Although several songs classify as clear-cut ‘fillers’–or too-sleepy skippables–what remains shouldn’t draw much complaint…
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