Thom Yorke

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

In a post-In Rainbows world, releasing an album can mean any number of things. At the top of the industry ladder especially, it seems everyone is (still) scrambling to find a solution to The Internet Problem, with good (Beyoncé) to near career-destroying (U2) models being created and destroyed on a now-regular basis. So, when Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke quietly unleashed his first solo album in eight years via file-sharing website BitTorrent earlier this month, the move seemed less about big statements and more about the ongoing fight to put record sales back into the hands of the artists. Retail tactics aside, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is noteworthy for a handful of reasons. For one, it’s the shortest full-length Yorke has ever released, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. It also marks a notable move into more electronic zones. From a fan’s perspective, Boxes is far more interesting (and listenable) than any of the straightforward electronic music Yorke has unveiled of late (see: Sisi BakBak). But it also doesn’t hold a candle to 2006’s The Eraser. What that record and Boxes do have in common, though, is significant: Both navigate icy landscapes, both gravitate toward glitchy beats, and both reward a concentrated ear. While nothing on Boxes immediately grabs — the melodies are few and far between here — the textures and tones that Yorke creates are impressive in their scope and hypnotizing in their execution. It’s no Radiohead album, but Boxes is certainly worth its paltry $6 sticker price. Welcome to the future.

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