From there, the album alternately combats the horrors of modern life with seething anger and zen-like serenity. It revolves around an all-too-common cycle: seeing red, getting fed up, taking a few very deep breaths, starting over. A light to attract attentionThe steepest middle finger comes with “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” the raucest Radiohead-related track since. Hello thief‘s “2+2=5” nearly two decades ago. Armed with three twisted chords that could have filled CBGBs in 1977, Yorke gives his best sneer while standing up to a “gangster troll” who wields his power over an aspiring young woman. Given its explicit reference to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” sex parties, this chivalrous #MeToo-era salvo could very well be aimed at the disgraced politician, who has already been convicted of having solicited sexual relations with a minor. Or maybe Yorke was thinking of Harvey Weinstein when he talked about a “sad fuck” with “pig members”. The thing is, this song could reasonably address so many different terrible men. As Yorke growls lines like “Get your filthy hands off my love / God knows where you’ve been,” you can practically see the spit leaving his lips.
Also probably on Smile’s shit list: the 45th President of the United States. ‘A hair dryer’ – with his beards on someone who flies south for the sun, blames everyone for their mistakes and spins tons of lies – certainly sounds like a swipe at the former boss. state capped by magic. Does the world need another diss track from Trump right now? Probably not. But will the anxious song, which slips on the back of Skinner’s pointillist hi-hat, feel increasingly relevant over the next two years, as the world prepares for the next cluster US presidential election? Most definitely yes. It’s part of Yorke’s power as a dystopian seer: every description of the present also seems to predict the future.
When Smiles aren’t romping around, they’re slime-surfing, seeking grains of pleasure and comfort wherever they can find them. “The Smoke” is a seductive whiff of understated funk that feels like a collaboration between Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and Marvin Gaye – thanks to Yorke’s flickering bassline and falsetto moans hinting at sensuality and self-immolation is the sexiest thing he’s ever recorded. . “Free in the Knowledge”, the album’s most direct song, deserves a place among classic Radiohead ballads like “True Love Waits” and “Give Up the Ghost”. This is wishful thinking in a world where authoritarianism seems so far away, until it isn’t. “A face using fear to try to stay in control,” Yorke sings, before his mind shyly turns to revolution: “But when we get together, well, who knows?” It’s not a call to arms, however. It is an admission of fragility that rings painfully clear and true. The floating anthem “Speech Bubbles” digs into a similar uncertainty. Over airy percussion and the floating strings and piano of Greenwood, Yorke sounds like a refugee with nowhere to go. As he laments cities on fire and a sudden sense of dislocation, it’s easy to connect the words to images of torn Ukrainian families, waiting for the next text message from a loved one left behind.