For those who don’t know, Thom Yorke is probably my favourite musician of all time. Radiohead were an integral part of my adolescence and continue holding major significance in my life as I still listen to them regularly to this day. Their seventh studio album In Rainbows is in my top 2 albums of all time, and Thom’s first album The Eraser also has a very special place in my heart. I’m fond of the tremendous warmth in his music, something that his voice is able to do to perfection. On the 27th June, he released his third studio album titled ANIMA, one which sounds more skeletal and cold than his previous projects. I had a difficult time getting into it at first, but slowly became more enamored by the subtle textures and layers, not only within the instrumentation itself, but the lyrics as well.
The album starts off with the unnerving and unsettling “Traffic.” With heavy, layered synths and pulsating beats, the track explodes into life with sub bass and playful vocals from Thom. “Submit, submerged / No body, no body / It’s not good, it’s not right / A mirror, a sponge / But you’re free” he sings in his usual falsetto, and these lyrics can partly summarise the album’s themes. Touching on themes of corrupt politics, identity and being lost in a world that seems scary and unsettling, this album is definitely an introspective and isolated listen. The broken synths on “Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain” is stunning, with Thom’s vocals layered on top of warped synths. “Twist” is a menacing dance-heavy track with a dominant beat and several beat and instrumental changes, as the track grows with ethereal synths and a thumping beat. The Techno-inspired aesthetic of this track make it a pulsating, energetic track that just keeps your heart-rate up. “Dawn Chorus” is a soothing, heart-wrenching track that is lyrically profound. My favourites, however are “I Am a Very Rude Person” and “Runawayaway” due to the layered and textured guitar and basslines that perfectly complement the skeletal, synth-heavy production throughout these tracks. They add melody, something I think the album as a whole lacks. Thom Yorke’s fascination with electronic music is seeped throughout this album, as it’s his boldest, most confident statement to date. Whether it is his best solo album is a different question – I still have a soft spot for The Eraser, it definitely shines through as his most defined, captivating release to date.
Listen to Thom Yorke’s third studio album ANIMA below via Spotify and don’t forget to support! Released via XL Recordings. If you have Netflix, be sure to check out the 15-minute film here, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and featuring Thom Yorke dancing and acting. It’s a stunningly beautiful piece of work and I can go on about theories I have about the themes of both the music and film, but I can save that for another time.