's sixth studio album, released June 9, 2003
, almost 2 years to the date of their last
. Producing is Nigel Godrich
, on his 5th album with the band.
"To me, this record feels like the culmination of the best bits of The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A and Amnesiac."
-Guitarist Ed O'Brien
- Sit Down. Stand Up
- Sail To The Moon
- Go To Sleep
- Where I End And You Begin
- We Suck Young Blood
- The Gloaming
- There There
- I Will
- A Punch-Up at a Wedding
- A Wolf At The Door
All of the songs except Backdrifts and The Gloaming were played during the band's June 2002 tour in Portugal and Spain.
The slogan "Hail to the Thief" is a pun on "Hail to the Chief", a march played to announce the arrival of the President of the US, and a reference to the controversy surrounding the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. It was first used by the band during their Christmas 2002 webcast, which featured members of Radiohead dressed up as Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush, shaking hands and snorting lines of faux-cocaine. Radiohead, while espousing left-wing ideologies, has for the most part eschewed overt political messages in their music, and this tradition has continued.
Claims by the band to the contrary, this album feels like a continuation of their work on Kid A and Amnesiac. Unlike their first 4 albums, there are no radical shifts in the band's style, and like their last 3, every track on the album is permeated, lyrically and musically, with a profound sense of impending doom. This is not a political album, but it is a reaction to the events since their last album: terrorism, war, political protest.
A quick summary: Out of the fourteen tracks, 9 are clearly politically motivated. Having the lyrics printed clearly and without intentional distortion helps crystalize their messages: "You can scream, you can shout / It is too late now / Because / You have not been paying attention" (2+2=5).
The album packaging is rather unique in that it is the first time since The Bends that we have been told exactly who played what instruments, and the first time we've ever seen a "Thanks" section for each band member ("To all those who get us out of bed in the morning" -- Among others, Thom thanks Michael Stipe, PJ Harvey, and "Myxomatosis" poet Spike Milligan, while Ed thanks Johnny Marr.)
Written and played by Radiohead.
Thom Yorke: voice, words, guitar, piano, laptop.
Jonny Greenwood: guitar, analogue systems, ondes martenot, laptop, toy piano, glockenspiel.
Colin Greenwood: bass, string synth, sampler.
Ed O'Brien: guitar, effects, voice.
Philip Selway: drums, percussion
A quick rundown on the tracks:
2+2=5: An example of doublethink, from George Orwell's novel 1984.
Sit Down. Stand Up: "sit down, stand up / walk into the jaws of hell"
Sail To The Moon: Like Subterranean Homesick Alien/Subterranean Homesick Blues, the title of this song is reminiscent of Fly Me to the Moon, but no other connection is apparent."maybe you'll be president / but know right from wrong / or in the flood / you'll build an Ark / and sail us to the moon."
Backdrifts: Previously unreleased. "We're broken fruit, we're damaged goods"
Go To Sleep: Premiered July 23, 2002 at the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon, Portugal.
Where I End And You Begin: Slogan printed on a tag in the seam of the band's newer t-shirts. "and i'm sorry for us / the dinosaurs roam the earth / the sky turned green / where i end and you begin"
We Suck Young Blood: Colin: About "these multiplatinum artists hooking up with the latest French disco producer to do their new record." Thom: "About Hollywood." "are you sweet? / are you fresh? / are you strung up by the wrists? we suck young blood"
The Gloaming: Previously Unreleased. Gloaming: Twilight; dusk; the fall of the evening. We are entering another dark ages. "Genie let out of the bottle / It is now the witching hour"
There There: Played live with three people on drums accompanying Thom's guitar and Colin's bass. "just cause you feel it, doesn't mean its there."
I Will: First heard on the 1998 documentary Meeting People is Easy. The chord progression was used as the backing to Like Spinning Plates, played in reverse.
A Punch-Up at a Wedding: "you had to piss on our parade / you had the shred out our big day"
Myxomatosis: Sometimes spelled with an 'a' in place of the first 'o'? An infectious virus of rabbits, used in Australia and the UK for pest control. "they were cheering and waving / twitching and salivating like with myxomatosis"
Scatterbrain: "i'm walking out in a force ten gale / birds thrown around, bullets for hail"
A Wolf At The Door: Referenced in Ed's online diary in 1999. "keep the wolf from the door but he calls me up /
calls me on the phone / tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up"