Atoms for Peace's Amok: A First Listen

Who's the audience for Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, and Flea's stutter-skip project Atoms for Peace? Well, me, probably. Preferring the contained chaos of Yorke's 2006 solo bow The Eraser (and his incredible cover of Miracle Legion's “All for the Best”) to anything his Noted Rock Band has done over the last 10 years, it's probably up to me to like this thing better than most things, though the only song that's grabbed me in advance so far, “What the Eyeballs Did,” isn't actually on the record. Fun fact: these first listens all started with one very (un)special eight-song album. So let's see how this goes.

“Before Your Very Eyes”

First things first: this sounds like the theme from Ren & Stimpy. Yorke's done a lot of funky things in Radiohead (what's up, “Where I End You Begin”?), but he's never opted to swing before and well… this is what we get. There's distinct guitar, some kind of background klaxon that sounds like the midpoint between a glass breaking, and a phone ringing, and some downright “Lust for Life” bass. Yorke himself is actually the most indistinct thing about it. I could only make out something about “keys to the kingdom,” and his ultra-high held notes could actually vie with Dave Longstreth's in Dirty Projectors more than anything Chris Martin's harrumphed out at a grand piano. At 2:21 some actual Skrillex synth pads pick up the stuttering groove, but there's little actual forward motion. Better it rocks out than rocks back and forth, though.

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