Radiohead : new songs report

On a nice but cloudy day of the end of July I went to Spain and saw some live Radiohead action. Well. Action may not be the word, but you know what I mean. And as my friend said : "Didn't you like it when he said 'Gracias' ?"  

I made myself a live compilation a week ago, with new Radiohead songs. There's 12 on my cdr and I put Talk Show Host as a bonus, because, really, Talk Show Host is a killer song. 

The band came after a very nice laptop show by Four Tet and started the set with There There, with the guitarists playing drums. It's a nice song, this one. I like Radiohead because they know how to make songs explode. They can make us reach a trance-like state with a snap. And they did it before Idioteque, with guitars only (crowd wonders in amazement). So, some of these new songs are exploders and others aren't. Like Scatterbrain, which sounds like b-side material to me. Nice but not amazing. The new songs are not filled with bleeps and glitches. Half of it are guitar songs, the other half being piano songs. 

We Suck Young Blood is downright brilliant. It's about Hollywood if I trust Thom Yorke's ranting on the bootleg recording. It's a low key song with Yorke playing piano while singing, with very shy band members playing in the back. It's goth (the old school way) and it's good. Makes me think of the darkest tracks of Tom Wait's Alice. And it explodes at some point, during an impressive bridge. The background vocals are haunting, the arpeggios ghostly and Greenwood mimics the sound of poisoned breeze making its way through cracked doors with dusty machines. Brilliant. We want the sweet meats / We want the young blood.

2+2=5 is a nice title. The song is good. It sounds a lot like Where I End and You Begin which makes me think of Depeche Mode. But, seriously, 2+2=5 is a brilliant song. It's an exploder. Thom Yorke shouts "BECAUSE!" at some point and the band follow him blindly in a bleep-free, idioteque-like trance. The end sounds like it's out of The Bends. Maybe it's the guitars. Where I End and You Begin starts with keyboard fog and then the drums kick in and the bass follows. This is so new wave it made me laugh. It painfully reminds me of Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough. Ahem ahem.

Sit Down Stand Up is another dark jewel patiently waiting for the third minute to explode. And this time Greenwood unleashes the dance beats. It sounds like a church choral going wrong, with Thom Yorke impersonating the fat woman shouting The Rain Drops over and over again while the crowd claps in rhythm.

One of my friends likes Punch Up at a Wedding a lot. It's not bad, but I don't understand him. Maybe I should listen to it a little more. The chorus is nice, but, man, it doesn't explode!

Sail to the Moon is very cinematic. You can picture a boat under the moonlight right when it starts. Piano and guitars and fog. There's an impressive part, during which guitars delicately hold the song high in its night sky and then slowly bring it back down. Impressively delicate and controlled.

The recording I have of Myxomatosis sucks. It was much better when I heard it in San Sebastian. I don't know why I feel so tongue-tied. It was a thrilling experience, listening to that song live for the first time. It's good. really.

There's only one more song i want to write about now. Keep the Wolf from the Door has the same goth-feeling than We Suck Young Blood but this time there is no piano. Only Thom Yorke's brilliant spoken word. I could write an essay about his lyrics, delicately crafted and still poison soaked. This is another reason why I love Radiohead. Every song is an anticipation story taking place now. I can't help but link Orwell's or K Dick's prophecies of dehumanization and Thom Yorke's snapshots of our own contemporary world. But I'm being serious. sorry. 

So, if you didn't really get it, I hope that We Suck Young Blood, There There, Keep the Wolf from the Door, 2+2=5, Myxomatosis, Sit Down Stand Up and Sail to the Moon make it on Radiohead's 6th album, out sometime in 2003. And please, stupid Spanish people, stop clapping during Talk Show Host.


/oct 1st 2002/