Radiohead do not release albums. They release integrated works of aural and visual artistry. Abstracted paintings and illustrations adorn their album covers; the font designer receives as much credit as the producer. This is a band that has always taken their craft seriously, and Hail to the Thief is no exception. Hail definitely keeps the momentum that Radiohead has been building over their career; the listener wonders at exactly what point did the band stop writing pop songs in favor of composing ambient soundscapes that can be loosely organized by song titles. And each song has two titles, hinting at metaphors buried within metaphors as Thomas Yorke continues to sing his strange little stories.
Hail takes the listener through Radiohead’s trademark melancholy tones, swelling into waves of manic rock that takes cues from Pink Floyd and the Stooges, only to suddenly pull the audience off balance with its electronica undertow. Layers of effects, programming, samples and production can’t hide the fact that these boys play the hell out of their instruments. Every guitar chord strummed or piano key pressed carries with it an undeniably raw energy reminding you that this is, after all, one amazing rock record.