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Album Review: Atoms for Peace - Amok

Alex Donaldson reviews brand new Atoms for Peace album, Amok.

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There are two ways of approaching this album: firstly we take it as Atoms for Peace's debut album, a new band coincidently comprised of several megastars. If we forget their individual back-catalogues, the album is cohesive; the 2013 Nigel Godrich produced dance album of the year you'll never get to actually dance to. The better angle sees Atoms for Peace as Thom Yorke's solo project, accompanied by some of the greatest session musicians ever. Opener, "Before Your Very Eyes..." lures you in with funky guitar, only to dive head first into a whirlpool of bassy synth. The production and effort gone into creating this album is beyond anything most recording artists achieve. The issue is that Yorke's vocals vary so little, the occasional falsetto rise only slightly changing the tone, that the genius is lost under his unrelenting eeriness.

Lead single, 'Default' may as well be a track on any Radiohead album. It's a wonderfully intelligent track. The contrast between the glitching intro and the dubbed-out keyboard is a joy. By the halfway point, however, you find yourself praying for intervention, a kick in tempo or vocal style. It seems like Yorke found a sound which worked and stuck with it for 45 minutes. A four song EP would have achieved the same thing, and we would've been more appreciative of that rare diamond. He's essentially hyper inflated his own musical economy.
The stand out moment is album closer and title track, "Amok". Flea leads with a simplistic riff, into the catchiest chorus of the record. "To run amok" wailed repeatedly by Yorke over effortless piano chords, reminiscent of a moody Moby.

I'd be amazed if anyone who didn't already know who made up this super group could actually tell upon listening to this record, it's just another Thom Yorke side project in his quest to conquer every genre known to man. Yorke exclaims "I don't want to stop" at one point, and despite this too-good-for-its-own-good yet ultimately average record, we really hope he doesn't.

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1 Comment

Julie Noble Posted on Monday 6 Jul 2020

Excellent review! I'm amazed with Thom's all his music. I'm a child of the 60's and never thought anyone could even come close to so many awesome gifts of music we've had for the last six decades. I want to live and and "breathe the air" with him, his family and recording associates.


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