Hail To The Thief Image

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

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Universal acclaim- based on 436 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 204
  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. Nov 16, 2011
    My favorite Radiohead album. Why? Because in addition to the experimental sound that was developed during the Kid A era, the rock sound is back with it. And these two sounds surprisingly incredible, and go together like vanilla and chocolate ice cream. This is one heck of a treat, for rock listeners and hipsters alike. In ways, I believe this is better than Kid A and OK Computer. Expand
  3. Apr 14, 2014
    a great album of variations, is an miz of Kid A and OK Computer, but only one, agreat album of pure rock, and melodies full of feelings, recomedated for everyone Expand
  4. Sep 28, 2012
    Super album. You will find a lot of things. Rock and piano ballads with a slight touch of electronic music. It's a very original sound, and the lyrics are deep and poetic. Expand
  5. j30
    Sep 21, 2011
    Just another solid input to the Radiohead cannon of records. This album pretty much sums up their career to this point. The glitchy electronica, great lyrics, and guitar freak-outs. Radiohead has it all. Expand
  6. Jan 28, 2012
    Despite being another great album, one feels that something is missing. Possibly it's the lack of a greater beauty in music. But it's still amazing and great to hear it. Expand
  7. Aug 5, 2011
    I discovered radiohead with the famous piano-driven "Karma Police". I then read a lot of great reviews for them so I decided to start from the begining. The first three albums are great, especially OK computer. However, I was very surprised with Kid A. I hated it. So I decided to go for "Hail to the thief" as it was said to be a sort of return to their origins. Well, that is not true. Still electronic, the only good songs are the first three and the last two, maybe the third one being the only great one. It's sad to see how this band has gone down so much whilst the press still praise them and laugh at muse's debut album saying it is radiohead (now they have changed them after seeing their fame) when it only draws some inspiration from the opening tracks of the marvelous OK computer. As radiohead have stopped doing that music it is fair for muse or coldplay to expand from that style. Expand

See all 204 User Reviews