England - Full Moon 120 - 07/11/06
When Radiohead is debuting new purist hard rock material, you know they needed a place to invest their unprocessed electronica scribblings. The Eraser could be ultimate development of such material, or could just be Yorke masturbating his way into his sixth year of unadulterated drum machine endulgence. As a sort of MC of avant-garde hip hop (or as the Brits call it, garage) he takes off where M.I.A.'s Arular left off-brooding collective panic on a flatland of atmospheres that range anywhere along the Kid A to Hail to the Thief period.
Without Radiohead Yorke has more fun in a more villainous character. "The Skip Divided" he covers himself, not in layers of reverb but in a satanic drone. He's not afraid in this album, he's causing the fear... he's the (cue the B-movie soundtrack!) THE ERASER!!! Moo-Hoo-Hoo-Haw-Haw-Haw!!
That's not even the most troubling thing about a Yorke solo album; the amount of clichés he uses in any given song is suffocating. What makes The Eraser enjoyable is that Thom Yorke invented those clichés in the first place on his better known albums. "Harrowdown Hill" must have at least 12 of these Yorke-isms: "We take the same things at the same time..." then later "Don't ask me ask the Ministry." It all sounds too familiar with the same socially conscious state we're used to be revolutionary. That said, you have to give the man props for making an album that's cool enough to outweigh the lame Arnold Schwarzenegger title.
And talk about hits! "It Rained All Night" and "Cymbal Rush" will find a happy place on the weirdo-pop friendly British radio charts where Gnarls Barkley and the Arctic Monkeys have found limitless success this year. While American radio and listenership lags behind playing Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" on endless monotonous repeat, enjoy solace in The Eraser while you still can.
Copyright © 2006 Matthew DeMello