Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

On the very first listen, Thom Yorke's new album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes may strike you as, well not exactly insubstantial and not exactly monotonous, but just kind of there, understated, having a continuity and momentum without clear purpose. For my part, I couldn't get over the fact that I was listening to a new Thom Yorke album that I had no idea was coming. But if you're not a fan, I can see how you might listen and wonder what all the fuss is about. It's a work that greatly benefits from repeated listenings.

Several days in, and I just keep repeating it. What seemed initially understated and perhaps even a bit aimless has proved to have remarkable qualities of cohesion and of clarity, moreso I think than any other Yorke or Radiohead album. It's not about melodies you hum, though I sometimes hum the weirdest things, but musical ideas you crave to experience again and again. Truth Ray may be the first to haunt your thoughts. At least it was for me. Its beauty is so unusual but also visceral, and I find myself just wanting to listen to it -- but wanting to hear it in the context of the whole album, not skipping anything, thinking in the middle of Pink Section that this is the perfect thing to be hearing right now, at this moment.

Everyone is different. We are each the ideal readers and listeners for particular artists. Thom Yorke is one of the creators of the soundtrack of my life, the one I carry in my head wherever I go. To know others' soundtracks is to know a little of others' minds.