Album Review: Thom Yorke – ANIMA

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Artist: Thom Yorke

Album: ANIMA

Genre: Electronic/Experimental 

Label: XL Recordings 

Rating: 8/10

 Thom Yorke needs no introduction at this point, and saying he needs no introduction goes without saying, so why am I saying it? I don’t know, I just needed an introduction in this review. We all know how influential his band “Radiohead” is. A band that have garnered much acclaim from critics and music fans alike with their eclectic music that strives to innovate and push boundaries. In fact, they’re so acclaimed that they just recently were inducted into the “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame,” and if you’re aware of the “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame,” you know they tend to ignore artists that are truly innovative, but here we are pleasantly surprised. Aside from “Radiohead,” Yorke has embarked on numerous music endeavors, including a decent solo career. Now, I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been the biggest fan of his solo material, (please don’t crucify me) because much of his music tends to be predictable or sound like “Radiohead” b-sides. That isn’t to say his music has been devoid of creativity and meaningful content, but the replay value is hardly there, but upon hearing that he was set to score Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake I was immediately intrigued. My expectations were exceeded with that soundtrack. Yorke beautifully crafted a dark and melancholy contrast to the film’s disturbing visuals. Following that up, Yorke has released his third solo album ANIMA, and this is the Thom Yorke solo album I’ve been waiting for. This album sounds like what I expected it to sound like, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This album has everything we’ve come to expect with Yorke’s solo material. The layers upon layers of synths, off-kilter drum patterns, and reverb-drenched vocal loops and harmonies layered to fall in disarray, but this time around this sound is perfected and truly hypnotic. Inspired by the subject of dreams, Yorke and longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich fully immerse the listener in a world of “Ambient Techno” that’s hypnotic and creates humanity out of the machines at work. The album’s opener “Traffic” hits you with buzzing synth bass and skittering synth arpeggios that build to a subtle climax that doesn’t bombard you with self-indulgence. This sets the tone for the rest of the album quite well, because the rest of the album follows a very similar note, and that’s the point, to hypnotize you and put you in a state that feels like a dream, and sometimes even a nightmare. Much of the album’s content deals heavily with claustrophobia and anxiety, and Yorke uses themes of dystopia to evoke feelings of anxiety, but there’s never a feeling of discomfort. A sense of urgency yes, and even a feeling of discombobulation, but it’s controlled and there is a frequent hopeful tone. The track “Dawn Chorus” is most definitely a standout track where Yorke’s almost spoken word vocals lay out a paranoid string of consciousness, but there is a sense of comfort beneath the madness. This isn’t an album that pummels you with abrasion or tumult, and it’s not trying to unsettle you, but with the darker subject matter, instead of delving further into the rabbit hole, Yorke and Godrich find a way to guide you through a meditative experience amidst the anxiety, as if they know most of their listeners find comfort and beauty in the sadder art, and pulling that off is no easy feat. If you find Thom Yorke to be pretentious or self-indulgent then this album isn’t for you, and the mere idea of Yorke using his own dreams as inspiration might make you cringe, but it’s definitely worth a listen. That’s right, i’m talking to you ya Thom Yorke detractors. 

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 06/30/19

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