The debut album by the supergroup founded by Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke and his long-time producer/collaborator Nigel Godrich, also includes Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea, Joey Waronker of R.E.M. and Beck, and Mauro Refosco. Trying to find that commonly sought-after perfect blend of man and machine, Amok has the basis of its tracklist created by Yorke on his laptop. Yorke then asked the band to play it using live instruments as well, creating a different feel to the same music. Melding the two together really does leave some degree of uncertainty as to how much of the record is electronically produced, and how much is naturally played. In the end though, the musicianship as expected, is well thought-out, upbeat and exciting.
Experimental rock or electronic, however you choose to define it, this is the cheeriest you’ll probably ever hear Yorke. A majority of the record uses The King of Limbs as its basis point, but then inputs the stronger electronic influences of previous Radiohead songs like, “The Gloaming”, into every song. From the opening moments of the first track, “Before Your Very Eyes…”, the electronic dominance is evident. Riveting drums and percussions never allow the beat to slow, before synths and one of the more memorable vocals on the album take hold.
The 2012 released “Default” then follows, and is immediately one of, if not the, most accessible tracks off the album. Heavily electronic, its stuttering synths and drum loops break so suddenly at times you never really delve deep in the song, which is exactly what the track intends to do. The album’s best track, “Stuck Together Pieces”, is the album at its most subtle. Percussion largely in the background, bass more evident, vocals centre stage, the guitar plays only to emphasize the vocal. When you strip it down, this track is perfectly arranged. The second single, “Judge, Jury and Executioner”, arguably sounds the most like a classic Radiohead song, with the falsetto, guitar and eerie choral background in defined harmony.
The album does feel very similar to The King of Limbs, but differs in the fact that it feels more cohesive. It may not have the incredible duo of tracks that were “Lotus Flower” and “Give up the Ghost”, but its consistency more than makes up for it. It all then leads up to the question, where to for Atoms for Peace? I’m not too sure, considering it is just a side-project. With Radiohead planning to release an album in the near future, a sophomore effort from the supergroup may be a long wait. Fortunately, a very capable debut album from a very capable set of people will keep fans satisfied.
Verdict – 7.9
Top Tracks – “Default”, “Stuck Together Pieces”, “Judge, Jury and Executioner”