I'm pretty sure Thom Yorke needs no introduction. As part of "that" band Radiohead he has helped make some the most beautiful, challenging and plain odd music of the last decade. So when it was announced that he had decided to release an album all by himself (he won't call it a solo project) it seemed like a bolt out of the blue, the release coming on the back of quite a bit of activity from Radiohead.
However before I can even talk about the music I have to admit my utter confusion at the packaging case. Where the bloody hell is the CD? There are folds and panels everywhere and it took me quite a bit of time to figure out where the darn thing was hidden, for those that also struggle with this it's where you would expect a CD to be, just the fold is well disguised.
Once I finally found the CD and started listening it, all becomes apparent as to why the case is so difficult. The first song, also called "The Eraser", is pretty terrible. It's full of the sort of beats that Radiohead have been using since Kid A and with a pounding piano backing as Yorke wails away over the top in that distinctive way of his. It sounds like a song that the rest of the band rejected for being just to "Radiohead sounding." This doesn't change with the next song either as "Analyse" follows the same pattern of piano, a similar sounding electronic beat and Yorke's vocals. "The Clock" however adds a rather hypnotic sound and finally the album feels more than just the songs Yorke couldn't sell the rest of the band on. The use of a simplistic and well mixed in guitar gives it something more than the previous songs.
The album becomes more intimate on "Black Swan" as Yorke tones down the vocals a tad and the production on his voice seems more minimal than on the previous tracks. Lyrically Yorke is at his usual otherworldly best with lines such as "You can not kickstart a dead horse/ You just crush yourself and walk away" and on "Atoms For Peace" he goes one better, in what is obviously about his anti nuclear views, he sings over a simple beat "So many lies/ So many lies/ So many lies".
The obvious highlight of the album comes in "Harrowdown Hill", an angry song about the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, who was at the centre of the scandal over the "sexing up" of the claims over Iraqi weaponry. The song is littered with references to the story and Yorke's voice is at its best in a long long time. The song also contains the only guitar parts that sound anything like the style of Johnny Greenwood.
The distinct lack of Johnny Greenwood's guitar is something that resonates throughout the album. It is sorely missed and though Nigel Godrich does a great job of giving The Eraser the sort of sound and feel that has come to be expected from an album that he is involved in, the album feels almost soulless and empty at points as Yorke seems disconnected from the bleeps and bloops happening behind his singing.
At the abrupt end The Eraser makes you long for the next Radiohead album. This album seems almost like a reminder that the band are still around as they work on the follow up to Hail to the Thief which sadly was not what Yorke was aiming for at all, yet what he has created. This is an album that rarely reaches the heights of the past work of Thom Yorke and that is probably its undoing in the end.
6.5 / 10
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