It probably surprises no one that Radiohead front man Thom Yorke released a new solo album on us suddenly (surprise), through BitTorrent, of all places. It’s not so much the method of distribution that makes this special, it’s just a good album. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes emanates with a slow ghostly peace, trippy and alien, an album that would fall apart if it were crafted with lesser hands.
There’s nothing too ground shattering here, those familiar with Eraser and Thom Yorke’s side project super group Atoms For Peace won’t be surprised. It’s all the same strange, and antiquated electronics composed with grace and melancholy balance. Something that sounds both old and new, but not exactly timeless. What we get here is an album that sounds very good, not great. Nobody tops themselves all the time. The soundscape is haunting, bare and grey, something that can easily turn people off, but things are propelled forward by interesting percussion, something vital to keep our attention. Yorke isn’t looking to push things forward so much this time as simply express himself. Things get complicated as usual. He takes through an amazing walk of a different side of life. It’s certainly not a happy album but doesn’t seem to have as much of the lonely cold of Eraser. Things get beautiful in a way that only Yorke seems to be able to deliver, everything flying, seemingly chaotic, to create a harmonious mess, jangled nerves and tired eyes.
As usual, the album probably won’t win any new fans (maybe it will, considering the way it was released, another surefire way to buzz up some headlines). But what we get is a solid album, not the greatest, but at this point in his career, Thom Yorke is doing pretty stellar, finding the beauty in the darkness more than anyone, the rest and quiet warmth in the spaces in between.