Sunday, October 6, 2013

Song #378 of 9999 - Harrowdown Hill by Thom Yorke

Song #378 of 9999

Title: Harrowdown Hill
Artist: Thom Yorke
Year: 2006
Album: The Eraser

Rarely do I complain. [...pause for reader snickering...] But 2006 just wasn't a good year for music. I will be the first to admit that a lot of stuff got by me that year so I spent the week listening to The Killers and The Decemberists and Snow Patrol and The Raconteurs and Arctic Monkeys—these are not good albums, people! This is why I have to write about Rihanna and movie soundtracks!!

But I digress. Thom Yorke pretty much bent over backward not to call The Eraser a solo record, apparently to assuage any fears from the Radiohead faithful that the album marked the end of the line for Britain's most significant band of the previous decade. But it bears his name and musical likeness so what else to call it? It's certainly not a Radiohead record, lacking the range and musical skill of a band where everyone is so creative and talented that (those) five (specific) heads are better than (any) one (of them).

But The Eraser is not lacking in weightiness or imagination and, while different, stands up to Radiohead's better work. Perhaps most striking is the relatively direct bent of Yorke's lyrics on the record, as he trades complex imagery and wordplay for straightforward, often emotional, verse. Consider this lyric from "Harrowdown Hill," which chronicles (and questions the validity of) Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly's suicide:
and i'm coming home
i'm coming home
to make it all right
so dry your eyes
we think the same things at the same time
we just cant do anything about it
This is a far cry from karma police/arrest this girl/her Hitler hairdo/is making me feel ill/and we have crashed her party. But what draws me in is the lyric coupled with earnestness of delivery—Yorke delivers the lines like they're real thoughts he's having right now, not words seemingly cut from a magazine and pasted onto paper. Which may work fine for Radiohead but perhaps not for this solo album. (there, I said it)

See you tomorrow in 1967.

1 comment:

  1. I should have mentioned the other nice thing about this record is that the instruments (except maybe the drum loops) are kept relatively simple which allows for more emphasis on Yorke's voice, which is a truly unique instrument.