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Hail To the Thief


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Performer Notes
  • Radiohead: Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, programming); Ed O'Brien (vocals, guitar, sound effects); Jonny Greenwood (guitar, toy piano, glockenspiel, programming, samples); Colin Greenwood (synthesizer, bass, samples); Philip Selway (drums, percussion).
  • Principally recorded at Ocean Way, Hollywood, California.
  • HAIL TO THE THIEF won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. "There There" was nominated for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
  • Not since the Beatles has a group managed to combine mass popularity and cutting-edge aesthetic triumphs so consistently as Radiohead, who by the time of HAIL TO THE THIEF had been on a roll since 1997's OK COMPUTER (as great as THE BENDS was, it didn't garner the band mainstream attention). While KID A and AMNESIAC had been outre, boundary-pushing attempts to expand the pop-rock palette even beyond the ambitious OK COMPUTER, HAIL TO THE THIEF incorporates the avant-garde techniques developed in that journey, applying them to more formal song structures. In this way, we get the best of both worlds on what just might be Radiohead's best album yet.
  • Though this isn't a return to the straight-ahead pop structures of THE BENDS, the guitar does make a welcome return here. There are plenty of glitchy electronics and atmospheric keyboards, etc., but they're integrated with traditional "rock" instrumentation" in a completely organic way. Though they remain art-rockers to the end, with Thom Yorke expressing carefully wrought angst both personal and political, Radiohead injects some blood into things as well. The occasional hard-grooving funk rhythm and crazed rock guitar riff keeps even the airiest sentiments well anchored, making HAIL TO THE THIEF as well balanced as it is progressive.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (12/25/03, p.109) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2003"

Rolling Stone (6/26/03, p.72) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...There are so many delicious melodies here, so much that's both soothing and twisted and catchy, so much to sing along with, even if our prognosis is grim..."

Spin (7/03, pp.103-4) - "...THIEF seesaws between the chill of sequencers and the warmth of fingers on strings and keys....It's strewn with the burnished, elongated melodies that have made them the most diversely covered band since the Beatles..." - Grade: A

Entertainment Weekly (6/6/03, pp.76-7) - "...Like all Radiohead albums, it's a slow grower, a densely packed collection of rapidly mutating sounds and surfaces that takes a while to comprehend..." - Rating: A-

Q (01/01/04, p.82) - Ranked #11 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums of 2003" - "[T]here are classic Yorke moments throughout..."

Uncut (01/04, pp.84-7) - Ranked #26 in Uncut's "Albums Of The Year 2003"

Uncut (6/03, p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Deep, broad and sprawling....It is a magnificently engaging and expansive work..."

CMJ (12/29/03, p.5) - Ranked #3 in CMJ's "Top 10 of 2003" - "Fourteen tracks of political anger, aggressive guitars, [and] thumping drum machines..."

Vibe (7/03, p.145) - 4 out of 5 - "...Radiohead's definition of pop has evolved from guitar-driven tracks with a Beatles influence to textured, willfully complex songs dripping with Pink Floyd-like ambition..."

Mojo (Publisher) (01/01/04, p.59) - Ranked #6 in Mojo's "The Best of 2003" - "[Marries] Radiohead's cerebal laptop wielding side with the rock might of THE BENDS."

Pitchfork (Website) - "[A] well-sequenced collection of songs that finds them internalizing the blend of experimental electronics and straightforward rock they wore so far out on their sleeves just a few years earlier."
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