The Smile | Almost Radiohead ★★★★

The thing has already been made clear, but let’s remember: that the new group of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood has been baptized The Smile does not mean that after having mapped the existential anxieties of the turn of the millennium with Radiohead, the two musicians got into sunny rock. The name of the group rather refers to the false smile displayed by those who hold double talk or lie to the face of society, to sad or disappointed smiles. Short, A Light For Attracting Attention is a disc quite more tinged with blue and gray than yellow…

We never completely reinvent ourselves: the songs written by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood with drummer Tom Skinner (drummer notably associated with the group Sons Of Kemet, whose jazz flirts with Afrobeat) would not be foreign in the world of Radiohead . You can hear it everywhere, from the melancholy vocals of Thom Yorke to the way the melodies are played out on the guitar, not forgetting the timbre of the piano and the general sound coating. This is also explained by the presence of Nigel Godrich, a longtime collaborator of Radiohead, in the production.

Where The Smile stands out is in the unusual time signatures, the punctual addition of brass and a great diversity of approaches. You Will Never Work in Television Again and We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings are for example clearly of post-punk inspiration whereas the previous track (Waving a White Flag) is stuffed with keyboards seventies. We also want to place it somewhere between Jean-Michel Jarre and Kitaro…

There is tension on this album. Which is not a surprise, knowing Radiohead. The more the album progresses, the more the music unfolds and displays generosity in the arrangements. Passing from one piece to another, one could say that this one refers to The Bendsthat one in mind of Kid A and amnesiac, And so on. As if it were a kind of aesthetic assessment. Jonny Greewood and Thom Yorke are not reinventing themselves here. Except that there is something about The Smile that makes you feel at Radiohead without being totally there. It is in this zone of freedom that this project takes off and finds its meaning.


A Light For Attracting Attention

The Smile

Self Help Tapes/XL Recordings

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