Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. There's something for everyone here. [Jul 2003, p.120]
  2. 100
    It feels more like a band playingto a multitude of strengths than the formal wrestling of Kid A. [Jul 2003, p.103]
  3. For its moments of gravity and excellence, Hail to the Thief is an arrow pointing toward the clearly darker, more frenetic territory the band have up to now only poked at curiously.
  4. 93
    From a technical standpoint, it's astounding.... But from a purely aesthetic standpoint, it's just downright unmusical. [#5, p.86]
  5. If you haven't already pledged your allegiance to Radiohead, this isn't gonna turn you.
  6. It's startling that a commercial rock band could sound this blood-and-oxygen vital, this meaningful and mighty six albums into their career.
  7. 90
    For all its muddied textures and sideways lurches, it is a magnificently engaging and expansive work. [Jul 2003, p.112]
  8. 90
    The band seems more comfortable in the studio than ever. [Aug 2003, p.88]
  9. Hail lacks the overriding musical, thematic or experimental coherence of the band's post-Pablo Honey work. But it is a strong collection of discrete tracks, like an unreleased B-sides collection finally seeing the light of day.
  10. An incredible album from a band that continues to redefine its boundaries.
  11. Hail to the Thief is overloaded with miraculous sounds.
  12. Radiohead effectively split the difference between its best-known incarnations on Hail To The Thief, which brings the group's Consecutive Great Albums total to a remarkable five.
  13. 80
    Coheres as well as anything else in their canon. [Jun 2003, p.90]
  14. Despite the fact that it seems more like a bunch of songs on a disc than a singular body, its impact is substantial.
  15. Despite the anger and bitterness, Hail to the Thief is more musically inviting than Radiohead's last two outings.
  16. The biggest problem with Hail to The Thief is its lack of surprise.
  17. This is truly an album that will stay with you once you’ve let it work its way in.
  18. Of course it's political, and of course it continues to merge electronic experimentation with more familiar rock structures; but it employs all those debate-igniting props simply to further the band's more pressing agenda: to tirelessly explore beauty's terrible fragility.
  19. Like all of the band’s best work, Thief requires more than a few listens to fully appreciate, but those who stick around will be richly rewarded.
  20. While it’s unrealistic to expect another Kid A-like transformation, by pulling all those familiar elements together, Hail to the Thief sounds, well, a little familiar. [Note: Score listed is an average of two separate reviews: a 68 and a 90.]
  21. That's not to say there's not some exceptional music on this record, it's just once again the impact of the best moments is dulled by the inclusion of some indifferent electronic compositions.
  22. As admirable as Radiohead's quest ongoing quest to ignore expectations, tear up the manual and proudly rebel against the limitations of 4/4 time seems, some of Hail To The Thief comes dangerously close to being all experimentalism and precious little substance. [Jul 2003, p.98]
  23. Sprawling, overwrought, unkempt rock music.
  24. 60
    The album seems resigned, defeated, passive -- like an hour-long sigh. [#17, p.130]
  25. Hail to the Thief's big drawback has less to do with its similarity to its predecessor than the sense that Radiohead's famed gloominess is becoming self-parodic.
  26. The new songs have attitude, but they sound like outtakes from 2000's classic Kid A and 2001's lesser Amnesiac.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 445 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 8 out of 205
  1. Jan 2, 2013
    It would appear that many of the lukewarm or negative reviews of Hail to the Thief have more to do with the density of this album [rather than any sub-standard songwriting on Radiohead's part]. Compared with the sparser textures of Kid A and [to a lesser extent] Amnesiac, which made these records more accessible despite the music's experimental nature, Hail to the Thief is thick with sound and heavily layered. Not only does this mean that more plays are needed to get to grips with, and appreciate, the power of the songs and their many subtleties, but also that listening to Hail to the Thief is exhausting - a result of the dense texture combined with a sense of melancholy and heaviness that saturates the 14 tracks. The fact that O'Brien and Greenwood have picked up their guitars again as well as the band continuing to use electronic sounds means that Hail to the Thief can be likened to Radiohead around the time of The Bends/Ok Computer playing at the same time as Radiohead circa Kid A. Given this, it is no wonder there is a lot going on, sonically.
    As ever, Radiohead are breaking a lot of new ground here, as is especially apparent in tracks like A Wolf at the Door [musically pretty verses with a Yorke's drunken stream-of consciousness overlaid, and a simple, catchy, and highly effective 'The Bends'-like chorus], and the dance-like Backdrifts [with the chord progression that sounds like it should go with a piano ballad, but rhythmic elements and electronic pips that belong on the dancefloor]. However, there are plenty of nods to previous albums in Hail to Thief; Johnny Greenwood's shimmering octave-up guitar effects on Sail to the Moon are reminiscent of Subterranean Homesick Alien, and his playing on Go To Sleep could easily belong on The Bends.
    Hail to the Thief also has its share of Radiohead's signature melancholic beauty, in the piano and glockenspiel opening of Sit Down. Stand Up[before it is shattered by a storm of electronic and vocal raindrops], the soaring slowness of Sail to the Moon, and pure vocal harmonies in I Will [surely Radiohead are masters of making anger something so beautiful]. The Upshot: All these factors combine to make an album that's success is due to the right mix of original sonic experimentation and elements from their previous albums. Of all their studio albums, Hail to the Thief is likely the most difficult to digest and comprehend, but to do so is certainly worth it. Persevere in getting to know the songs intimately, and be rewarded with the emotional power and musicianship of Radiohead at their very best.
    Full Review »
  2. MarcR
    May 21, 2003
    An extremely strong album, as the band has managed to incorporate the best elements of their last three albums. By far one of the year's best. One question remains for arguably the best rock n roll band right now, -where to go, from here? Full Review »
  3. ReidM
    Aug 15, 2009
    This album has it all. The most versatile, poetic, beautiful, ugly, gritty, engaging, sick, ass-kicking piece of intelligent, thought-provoking rock-n-roll I've heard in a long time. Full Review »