Is ANIMA most like Thom Yorke’s previous solo album The Eraser (2006), or his celebrated soundtrack to last year’s supernatural horror film Suspiria, or Radiohead’s last album, the pearl-bright A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)?
In truth it bears most resemblance to Radiohead’s experimental 2001 classic Amnesiac, although it doesn’t convey many of the mysteriously hopeful hallmarks of that investigation into humanity’s learning from past mistakes.
On ANIMA, beats shudder and synths wail like babies or squeezed balloons, peppered with the sudden, agile bass runs familiar from Radiohead’s oeuvre. Yorke’s vocals – sometimes corrupted to Pulk/Pull Revolving Door proportions, sometimes so clean and close he could be mumbling right against your temple – are the centrepiece but don’t fall into the discernible melodic motifs that The Eraser played with; it’s an uneasy dive into dystopia he’s presenting to us, and the monolithic, seven-minute Twist serves as its grand statement: the track uses the same kid-crowd shouted ‘Yeah!’ sample from In Rainbows favourite 15 Step as part of its rhythm, built into an anxious layercake as Yorke himself joins in the paradoxical cheer with his own frail, fluttering take on the word.
Just as ANIMA dips from jittery dread to strangely serene resignation, the incessantly imaginative Yorke dodges predictions once again.
ANIMA by Thom Yorke is out July 19 on CD and vinyl via XL Recordings/Remote Control.
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