EMI - 2003 - 56 minutes
And still we flock. It doesn't really matter what Radiohead do to piss off their fans, it doesn't seem to work. After the shock of 'Kid A' and the frankly patience-sapping 'Amnesiac', you'd think some of us would get the message. Following the once bitten, twice shy logic, it should be twice bitten, never again.
And still we flock. But should we? Well, yes and no. A couple of tracks in and we glide into the haunting, Pink Floyd-esque realm of 'Sail To The Moon'. Here, Thom Yorke's voice - shimmering over the magnetic simplicity of piano and gentle guitar - is at its most heartfelt in years.
'Go To Sleep' is one of the most conventional songs Radiohead have ever done, while the outstanding first single 'There There' - with its menacing, cinematic second half - is riveting. Less successful but still interesting are the atmospheric 'Where I End and You Begin', the metronomic 'A Punchup at a Wedding' and the fragile 'Scatterbrain'.
But in between these there are some serious mistakes. 'Sit down. Stand up', 'Backdrifts' and 'The Gloaming' are in sub-standard 'Amnesiac' territory, while the rest don't make much of an impression either way.
Ultimately, this is as good in patches as it is disappointing in others. And it seems it is this inconsistency that marks the post-'Ok Computer' Radiohead. 'Kid A' had some supreme moments ('How To Disappear Completely', 'Everything In Its Right Place') and even 'Amnesiac' had a track that would saunter on to any best seven from the band ('Knives Out').
But knowing Yorke and Co, that's probably the point. The system seems to be that for every track they give the fans, they claim one for their own self-indulgent - and sometimes downright pointless - amusement.
Overall, 'Hail To The Thief' never fully repays the time it demands, but it does contain enough to ensure you'll come back for more on Radiohead's next release. Be thankful for small mercies.
Tracklisting: 2+2="5" - Sit down. Stand up - Sail to the Moon - Backdrifts - Go to Sleep - Where I End and You Begin - We Suck Young Blood - The Gloaming - There There - I Will - A Punchup at a Wedding - Myxomatosis - Scatterbrain - A Wolf at the Door