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Album Review

by Atoms For Peace


Review Date
5th March 2013
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

Thom Yorke’s latest supergroup venture sees him channeling his inner claustrophobia with a more flamboyant band. Their debut offering AMOK is a largely successful enterprise: one that feels more alive than his pretty but samey Eraser, and one that shows Yorke, dare I say it, having fun. At times though, it does feel a bit too constrained by the Radiohead style doodling.

Atoms For Peace features Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on bass, Nigel Godrich on keys, Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion. With such a technically strong band, you’d expect the album to be a giant jam session. Instead, Yorke’s approach is to cut the songs up, add a mountain of electronic textures, or to throw new ideas frequently into the mix – he’s not content simply to let the band ‘settle’.

This works wonderfully on a number of tracks. Opening track ‘Before Your Very Eyes’ shows the influence of the band sitting back and listening to a lot of Fela Kuti. The rhythms and the catchy melody get the album off to a particularly strong start. The crescendos in ‘Dropped’ work wonderfully to add tension bolstering the album’s midpoint. ‘Stuck Together Pieces’ gives more work to do for the band – in particular Flea’s bass – and it feels the least like a Thom Yorke solo song. It’s a great tune, and hints perhaps at what could have been.

A number of the other tracks are however a little meandering. Songs such as ‘Default’ or ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ sound too much like King of Limbs B-sides (not necessarily a bad thing). Others, such as ‘Unless’ or ‘Amok’ could have been pushed a little further.

Perhaps AMOK has been judged a bit harder based on the high standards set by Yorke previously – it’s overall an interesting and well-constructed album, and the album arguably holds together better than The Eraser. It’s likely that this album will be more interesting live (in fact it should be great), and to see whether the notoriously perfectionist Yorke will allow his band to be themselves a little more. The songs and the talent are clearly there.


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