Sound — 2
It's almost painful to be a witness to Thom Yorke's journey from one of the most extraordinary live performance bands of recent years to this cold, hollow, unimaginative Windows XP symphony for musical doorbell and car alarm. I can't help comparing this album to Radiohead's Amnesiac, an album of which I'm rather fond, but you won't find a Pyramid Song, Like Spinning Plates, or a Life in a Glasshouse anywhere among this collection of uninspired bleeps and farts. I have nothing against downbeat, melancholy music. I'm a huge fan of people like Tom Waits and Tori Amos, both of whom are masterful when it comes to expressing the darker emotions through music. However, downbeat music needs that extra bit of spark, whether it be aggression, sneer, humour, or just moments of pure uplifting beauty. Downbeat music needs to change gear every now and again to stop it from becoming too monotonous. Radiohead themselves were experts at these gear changes, but it seems that Thom Yorke, as a solo artist, has neglected this important factor. And as a result The Eraser sounds one dimensional and frankly, very boring. The use of crackle and hiss effects to try to replace the brittle electronic sound with a kind of retro, vinyl quality is pretty ironic, and does nothing to redeem this soul-free loop fest. The whold album sounds no better than an amateur's basement experiment and if it were a demo by an unknown artist, you get the feeling that any prospective record label would have filed it in the bin.
Lyrics — 2
I have to admit that I haven't paid much attention to the lyrics. This album is so musically uninteresting that it is a chore to listen to it anymore than two or three times. Vocally though, Thom Yorke sounds either really stoned or just plain bored, and his melodic phrases are as dull and samey as the repeatative background dirge that is trying to pass itself off as music.
Overall Impression — 2
If Thom Yorke is going to continue to use his computer to create music, then he needs to be a hell of a lot more creative about it because this lazy, cut and paste approach isn't working. Or maybe Yorke just can't cut it on his own. Just as Roger Waters' concepts needed Dave Gilmour's musical sense, and McCartney was really cheesy without Lennon, so too it would appear that Thom Yorke needs John Greenwood.