A Light For Attracting Attention - The Smile

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood craft a stirring tribute to their special creative partnership on their debut as The Smile.

Radiohead fans’ six year wait for LP10 looks no closer to coming to an end in 2022, but their long-standing patience will be somewhat rewarded by the debut of The Smile, a side project that goes further than you might expect towards satiating obsessives appetites by combining the considerable talents of frontman Thom Yorke, multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner for one of the finest alternative rock releases of the year to date.

Formed last year as a result of Greenwood’s desire to write songs with Yorke during lockdown, The Smile’s smooth juxtaposition of art-rock, electronica and Afrobeat thrives on an improvisational feel and bedroom jam ambience for the duration of A Light For Attracting Attention, with the trio’s easy chemistry no doubt aided in large part by the secluded setting and extended downtime that gave birth to these intricate compositions.

As the band’s respective messiah and maestro through the years, Yorke and Greenwood don’t stray far from the better elements of modern Radiohead records. There’s a relative back to basics formula at the foundation of this collection, with varying forays into layered acoustic balladry (‘Free In The Knowledge’) and alluring guitar work (‘You Will Never Work In Television Again’, ‘The Smoke’) borrowing a trick or two from 2011’s The King Of Limbs, while the shimmering string and falsetto laden beauty of A Moon Shaped Pool is vividly recalled on cinematic highlight ‘Pana-Vision’ among others.

The best moments of the record occur however when both styles flourish together, as the undoubted standout moment from this entire project concludes A Light For Attracting Attention, with a deep cut from the Radiohead archives dating back over a decade being unleashed in all its glory at the record’s breathtaking apex as ‘Skrting On The Surface’ provides a euphoric exhibition of the creative majesty that Yorke and Greenwood have forged over the years, a partnership which holds up as tightly as ever before on the basis of this definitive version of ‘Skrting’.

It’s a fitting way to bring us to a close, with a blissful climax that perfectly reflects this thirteen-track collection as a whole. Despite the seemingly effortless execution and natural dynamic shared by its leads, this is a record unmistakably crafted with quiet precision and intense perfectionism, a labour of love that goes well beyond the standard expected of a typical side project.

On A Light For Attracting Attention, Yorke and Greenwood create a simply stunning ode to the unique creative relationship that has served Radiohead and each other so well these past four decades, and the result stands alongside the best work of both men’s careers outside the band that made them legends.

8.0 / B+

Best Tracks: 'You Will Never Work In Television Again', 'Pana-vision', 'Skrting On The Surface'

Like This? Try These:

  • Amok - Atoms For Peace

  • Bodysong - Jonny Greenwood

  • Anima - Thom Yorke


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