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THOM SOLO ALBUM
FIRST LISTEN
“Radiohead were relieved I did it,” says Yorke as he readies new record.



Over the last five years, Thom Yorke has kept a secret. As well as working on tracks for Radiohead, he’s been storing away ideas for songs which, next month, will be released as his first solo album ‘The Eraser’.
Recorded on and off since 2000, when Radiohead were working on ‘Kid A’, the tracks were put together slowly, often when Thom was bored and had only his laptop for company.
“A lot of the basic ideas were kicking around when I got all of my software on my laptop,” Thom said recently. “They weren’t things that would ever get to the band; they just worked in that isolated laptop space. There was no point in going to the others and saying, ‘Phil, do you want to try a beat on this?’ Or, ‘Colin, do you want to play some bass?’ Because the sounds and ideas were not from that sort of vibe.”
Although released as a solo album, other members of Radiohead do feature on ‘The Eraser’. A piano loop by Jonny Greenwood has been sampled and reworked, while a sample that guitarist Ed O’Brien and drummer Phil Selway were working on back in 2000 has been pulled to pieces, and now forms the basis of the track ‘Black Swan’. Longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich has produced this too, while artist Stanley Donwood has done the artwork.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for along time,” Thom told Rolling Stone. “I wanted to work on my own. It wasn’t casting aspersions on anybody. I just wanted to see what it would be like. Luckily, I happen to be in a band where nobody has a problem with that. In fact, I think there was some sense of relief that finally I was going to do it. Rather than saying it and chickening out... I wasn’t thinking about Radiohead. I never thought. ‘I should stop here. I should give this to the band.’ Once I had eventually made the decision to do this record on my own, that’s what I was writing for.”
‘The Eraser’ is released on July 10. Here, we present NME’s track-by-track guide to the record.


THE ERASER – NME’S TRACK-BY-TRACK VERDICT

1 THE ERASER
Sampled piano opens the album courtesy of Jonny Greenwood, followed by a typically biting Thom lyric: “Please excuse me, but I’ve got to ask?/Are you only being nice because you want something?”.

2 ANALYSE
Potential single. Built around an almost Arabic-sounding beat, Thom sings: “There’s no time to analyse/To think things through to make sense”. In the background the bass rumbles. The most danceable track on the album, similar to Radiohead’s ‘Where I End And You Begin’.

3 THE CLOCK
Has an urgent, paranoid feel, and also sees Thom have ago at being a human beat box. Drawing on similar lyrical themes to Radiohead, the song appears to have a dig at failing politicians towards the end, with its kiss off, “You may believe that you are still in charge”.

4 BLACK SWAN
The origins of this track go back almost six years. In 2000, bandmates Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway were working on a sample for a Radiohead track, but it was never used. Thom kept it, pulled it to pieces, and turned it into this effort.

5 SKIP DIVIDED
Built around a simple electronic drum loop, Thom almost speaks the track instead of singing. One of the most experimental songs on ‘The Eraser’, think ‘A Wolf At The Door’ from ‘Hail To The Thief’.

6 ATOMS FOR PEACE
Named after a speech by US President Eisenhower in 1953, the lyrical content is slightly less obvious. “No more leaky holes in your brain/And no more false starts”, Thom sings over a minimalist drum beat.

7 AND IT RAINED ALL NIGHT
Written one night when Thom couldn’t sleep, there are references here to “New York, air conditioned drains”, and “the click clack of heavy black trains”, setting this doomed love song on the other side of the Atlantic.

8 HARROWDOWN HILL
This beauty spot in Oxfordshire was made famous when Dr David Kelly – a weapons expert at the centre of a row about Iraq’s WMD – was found dead in 2003. The lyrics appear to deal directly with his death. “Don’t walk the plank like I did/You will be dispersed with”, Thom sings, before questioning “Did I fall or was I pushed?”

9 CYMBAL RUSH
Thom says he’s been working on this for ages, and he played it live at KOKO in London in May. The album’s closing track is built around a wall of electronica, and a soft, Aphex Twin piano loop in the background which builds and builds. Radiohead are talking about playing this in their live shows.


RADIOHEAD HIT AMERICA

Radiohead have been introducing songs into their live set on their North American tour – but they’re all old classics rather than further new tunes.
Among the songs exhumed for the current jaunt are the title track of 2000’s ‘Kid A’, 2001 single ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Hail To The Thief’’s ‘The Gloaming’, which was a regular set opener on their 2003 world tour. While ignoring 1993 debut ‘Pablo Honey’ completely, Radiohead have now played almost 40 songs from their back catalogue on their current jaunt.
Radiohead have also been fine-tuning the batch of new songs they premiered in the UK last month – among those featuring regularly are ‘Bangers ‘N’ Mash’, ‘4 Minute Warning’, ‘15 Step’, ‘Spooks’, ‘Arpeggi’, ‘Bodysnatchers’ and ‘House Of Cards’.
After going down a storm in the UK, the band’s choice of material seems to have been just as popular with their American fans – one even threw Thom Yorke a pair of socks at one of their Boston shows at the Bank Of America Pavilion. The singer joked: “I hoped they were bras!”
Yorke seems to be in playful mood, encouraging audiences to say ‘Hello!’ and slotting in the intro to Neil Young’s ‘70s classic ‘After The Gold Rush’ before performances of ‘Everything In Its Right Place’.