Thom Yorke is in a cheerful and completely delighted state in his review of The Smile.

Thom Yorke is in a cheerful and completely delighted state in his review of The Smile.


The current status of Smile is still uncertain. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood collaborated with Sons of Kemet’s drummer Tom Skinner during the pandemic as a way to pass the time, and have already released more music in the span of two years than Radiohead has in 15. Yorke’s solo albums were more electronic and elusive, while Greenwood’s film scores were different in nature. However, the material produced by Smile can stand up to their main job. The ever-active Greenwood once expressed his desire for Radiohead albums to be released more frequently with the same quality, and this could possibly fulfill that wish.

The Smile’s incredible versatility shines on stage, accompanied by an LED screen that reflects the album title “Wall of Eyes.” Their performance features a fusion of jazz-rock, Afrobeat, horror movie synths, reggae, and krautrock elements. The standout track “Bending Hectic” builds up to a powerful rock anthem, enhanced by strobe lights. Each song showcases a different combination of instruments, with Jonny Greenwood switching between guitar, synthesizer, piano, and harp, while saxophonist Robert Stillman adds to the intensity, most notably in the new song “Instant Psalm.”

While Yorke’s lyrics are the usual labyrinth of suspicions, phobias and vendettas, his between-song energy could almost qualify as jolly. He kicks off the Can-like Zero Sum with a growl of “here we fucking go” and whips the crowd into roaring the crony-bashing final refrain of Friend of a Friend. Perhaps the singer’s ease is down to the pleasure of flying free from expectations, playing new material without sensing fans itching for Paranoid Android.

During numerous years, any project that Yorke was a part of felt like a form of disagreement, rejection, or avoidance tactic. This group, on the other hand, embraces all suggestions and enthusiastically follows each direction. Their name may allude to the negative effects of surveillance capitalism or political jargon, but tonight’s spirited journey suggests a more straightforward interpretation. So, let’s all smile!