As if to temper anticipation, The Eraser was announced only about two months ago with little fanfare (basically Yorke just stated he was going to release a solo album). Of course, with the world in general seemingly being huge Radiohead fans, people got very excited and within a few days of the album leaking, every single song was available on various MP3 blogs around the internet (as well as on file sharing, obviously). While some people found the album an instant classic, may were seemingly a bit confused and disappointed by the downtempo melancholy electronic tracks.
First off, expecting The Eraser to be anything like a Radiohead album will get you disappointed real fast. This is just Thom with some skittery beats, stripped-down largely electronic austere instrumentation, and his usual expressive vocals. It’s probably most comparable to “Idioteque” from Kid A, except that it’s basically an entire album in roughly that style. Album-titled “The Eraser” opens the disc and provides a good glimpse of what’s to come with filtered piano chords, layered vocals, and some crisp, but understated glitchy beats that drift by smoothly under Yorke’s lamenting vocals.
“Analyse” is similar, with ascending piano melodies floating through cracking beats and synth whooshes. The entire disc has a roughly similar feel, but there are definitely a couple standout tracks that really stand out. “Black Swan” morphs the beats into something that feel inspired by hip-hop while some almost funky bass mingles with distorted guitar loops and eerie electronics as Yorke delivers his lines in almost mantra-like ways during the chorus.
Another standout includes the amazing “Atoms For Peace,” which might be the best track on the entire album. In it, warm analogue pads provide a cushy bed as static-edged beats and an encroaching drone fold the track over on itself. Yorke is also at his best on the track, moving back and forth between subdued and his lovely falsetto and pushing the track into hope-filled territory. For every great track, though, there’s another that’s rather flat, and tracks like “Harrowdown Hill” and “And It Rained All Night” bring out the lack of variety on the disc and feel more like re-treads than much of anything else. As a whole, The Eraser is sorta like Jonny Greenwood’s solo outing Bodysong in that there’s both some great tracks and some less-than-inspiring work. Radiohead fans will obviously want to snag it up, but if you’re looking for melancholic electronic pop, there’s much better to be found.