Gaining celebrity status certainly has its perks. Aside from the money and fame, being a celebrity gives you certain outlets which set you apart from the average slob. Sports stars have their Gatorade commercials, movie stars have “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” while musicians have the illustrious solo album.
Solo projects are great undertakings that allow artists to venture into new territory and break away from the sound commonly associated with their band. When an artist is writing and performing for a band, a certain aesthetic resonance is generally adhered to in order to give the music direction. Therefore solo projects give artists the leeway needed to create a wholly new impression and sound.
Unfortunately, some things are just better when left untouched. May I present you with “The Eraser,” Thom York’s less than desirable freshman solo set.
Now, before you get your panties in a twist thinking I’m preaching a blasphemous gospel about the Radiohead frontman, one little factoid must be made: I’m a Radiohead fanboy. I love Radiohead. I dream about Radiohead. I’m a member of Radiohead Anonymous.
But I learned a long time ago that what credence and declaration a band holds doesn’t necessarily apply to the member’s solo projects (a lesson learned with Morrissey’s “You are the Quarry”).
Now don’t get me wrong, “The Eraser” isn’t a bad album by any standards, but with Thom York masterminding the entire production, I expected a hell of a lot more.
Like I said earlier, solo projects are a way for artists to venture out. “The Eraser” is less an innovative change and more a dumbing down of Radiohead’s unique sound.
Much like in Radiohead, York relies heavily on surreal ambiance and highly melodic vocals, but he trades the rest of the band for simple drum machine electronica.
Electronica isn’t a bad thing, but it’s very easy to get caught up in monotonous repetition. The album tracks just seemed to blend together, with no real discernible point signifying when one ends and another begins.
I think York’s aspiration was to create a sort of minimalist version of Radiohead, but it ended up sounding a lot like Aphex Twin. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this was York’s stab at what Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello made popular with The Postal Service, yet sadly, it fell short of that mark.
With such dynamics and ingenuity found throughout Thom York’s extensive musical lineage, it was rather disappointing to find his first solo album as less than memorable. But seeing that he is the brainchild behind one of the most innovative rock groups today, I may just let this one slide.