December 3, 2007
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
If you were to scan the box of ‘In Rainbows’ (which, by the time you read this, you may be able to do), you might imagine that the last three tracks were about Radiohead having a nice quiet evening in the lounge. Thom builds a house of cards. Thom does a jigsaw. Thom watches a videotape. Presumably followed by a cup of Horlicks and bed. It doesn’t turn out like that.
They say you’re never as alone as when you’re in a crowd, but what they really mean is, ‘You’re never as alone as when you’re in a crowd and are Thom Yorke’. 21st century anxiety is his lifeblood – while other people spend their lives developing thick skins to the whirr of the modern world, he seems to be suffering from a disorder that thins his year-by-year, until he’s shielded by a psychic membrane as translucent as one of the weird fish that lurks in the deep.
We arrive in time to find him suspended, freeze-framed, pivoting around so many ‘justs’ – “just as the drinks arrive…”, “just as you write my number down…”, in a club perhaps, alienated from both the lover he’s with and the teeming nightlife that surrounds them. It starts orderly enough. An abrupt pair of acoustic guitars steaming onwards; a chord progression twisting jazzily like ‘Paranoid Android’’s photo negative; the far-off, wordless siren-song of a female voice. Then something snaps: the unease accelerates and closing credit strings swarm in. So you “dance, dance, dance”, though maybe not in the Justice sense, more like a marionette being jiggled by a crazed puppeteer (exactly how Thom actually dances) and, just as you’re blinded by the cacophony, it’s over as abruptly as it began. One more bad dream to add to our list of Thom’s favourite worst nightmares. Anyone for backgammon?
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday