Hail To The Thief Image

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 448 Ratings

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  • Summary: Not quite the return to the "rock" side of Radiohead as originally believed (although pretty close), the band's sixth album (produced again by Nigel Godrich) retains some of the experimental electronica elements of its predecessors Kid A and Amnesiac. Note that each of the tracks on the album has an alternate title, as does the album itself (aka 'The Gloaming'). Expand
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. 93
    From a technical standpoint, it's astounding.... But from a purely aesthetic standpoint, it's just downright unmusical. [#5, p.86]
  3. 90
    For all its muddied textures and sideways lurches, it is a magnificently engaging and expansive work. [Jul 2003, p.112]
  4. This is truly an album that will stay with you once you’ve let it work its way in.
  5. Despite the fact that it seems more like a bunch of songs on a disc than a singular body, its impact is substantial.
  6. 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.]
  7. The new songs have attitude, but they sound like outtakes from 2000's classic Kid A and 2001's lesser Amnesiac.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

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.
  2. TylerF
    May 21, 2006
    To anyone picking up this album let me give you a bit of advice: listen to this album at least 20 times full through before coming to a decision on it. Like their previous best work, OK Computer and the brilliant Kid A, it takes time for all the sounds Radiohead puts out before you finally 'get it'. Don't expect to pop it in and be instantly floored by every song (although some songs hit hard the first time- "2+2=5" and "there There"). The CD gets better with every listen. There's nothing more than you can ask than of this. We live in a world of commercial radio where songs hit the air waves for a week, make the top 10, and then fall off in another few weeks. Radiohead have staying power!! Their music is pure bliss- just let it sink in in time. Expand
  3. sirazhtabukov
    Jun 6, 2003
    no comments
  4. leighm
    Jun 24, 2009
    Underrated. this album is a collection of so many different genres. it is a prime example of Radiohead's versatility. Its superb.
  5. MaxM
    Jun 21, 2007
    This music is different and it sucks that Radiohead is my favorite band because I can't find any music that is similar to it only better.
  6. Jul 11, 2011
    This album has some truly spectacular moments - Go to Sleep, 2+2=5, Sit Down Stand Up and A Punchup at a Wedding to name just a few, and is the typical Radiohead excellence. However, I cannot help but feel that a few tracks (such as We Suck Young Blood and I Will) would have been better as B-Sides. They extended the album beyond its lifespan and were not quite as strong. With a few removed tracks the album would have had such powerful impetus as to be unstoppable. Expand
  7. lewisc
    Apr 24, 2006

See all 205 User Reviews