Thom Yorke’s New Track ‘Hearing Damage’ – It’s Not About Vampires

A lot of people seem surprised that Thom Yorke has contributed a track to the new ‘Twilight’ movie ‘New Moon’, as if getting involved with a teen vampire franchise were somehow beneath him, a bit emo.

Actually, there’s always been a black vein of the gothic running through Yorke’s lyrics, from ‘We Suck Young Blood’ to the supernatural dread evoked by ‘Street Spirit’ (“I can feel death, can see its beady eyes”).

Not that there’s anything particularly ghoulish about the track he’s contributed to the film, ‘Hearing Damage’. There are no sound effects of creaking coffin lids, and Yorke hasn’t started pronouncing all his Ws like Vs, like The Count from Sesame Street.

Instead, it’s a glossy, propulsive slab of dark-hued electro, reminiscent of ‘Violator’-era Depeche Mode, in which Yorke’s voice is uncharacteristically slathered in heavy reverb. What is characteristic is the insertion of an unexpected metaphor, simultaneously everyday and slightly deranged – unless I’ve misheard, he compares himself to a “drunken salesman” at one point – and a looming sense of mental fragmentation.

“Your speakers are blowing, your ears are wrecking, your hearing damaged”, sings Yorke, recalling the strobe lights and warm speakers of ‘How To Disappear Completely’: that sense of music as being somehow an unreal state, the product of an overdriven and overheated mind.

And it’s pretty wonderful, I think, certainly less oblique than Yorke’s last solo release, the double A-side ‘Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses’/’The Hollow Earth’. What do you think?