Like the rubber on the back of a pencil, Thom Yorke’s The Eraser gracefully succeeds in its removal of triteness and triviality from electronic rock, while also infusing the genre with a unique soul and rhythm that many do-it-yourselfers have yet to obtain. He has declined to call The Eraser a solo debut, but all nine tracks of his electronic renaissance are distinctly Yorke-ish, mirroring the dark digital pop he created on Radiohead’s more recent songs such as “Backdrifts” and “The Gloaming.”
Additionally, with veteran producer and long-time friend Nigel Godrich at his side, Yorke’s songs are able to transcend their laptop origins and engage the listener on very personal and human levels. From the beginning of The Eraser’s self-titled track, Yorke boldly challenges his audience as he sings, “Please excuse me but I got to ask / Are you only being nice / Because you want something?” over echoing piano chords reminiscent of “Pyramid Song” and “Like Spinning Plates.”
He continues forth on his album with beautiful piano arpeggios and eerie synth effects over looped drum beats on “Analyse” and displays his epic songwriting skills with “The Clock,” an album highlight which features faint guitar repetition over a rhythm driven by Yorke’s beat-boxing and cryptic but fascinating lyrics like, “Time is running out for us / But you just move the hands upon the clock / You throw coins in the wishing well / For us.”
Another favorite track is the hauntingly sleek and sinister techno piece “Skip Divided,” where Yorke bares his fangs – half-rapping and half-singing words like, “I’m in a skip divided, malfunction / I flap around and dive bomb / Frantically around your lie / enveloped in a sad distraction.”
Yet Yorke is also optimistic and charming on this album, especially during “Atoms for Peace,” a warm and ethereal electronic number which showcases Yorke’s hopefulness with lyrics such as “No more talk about the old days / It’s time for something great.” For every space-age click, bleep and bloop there is also a lot of heart in Yorke’s digital experiments.
Finally, “Cymbal Rush,” which has also been featured on Radiohead’s summer setlists, closes the album perfectly by creating an ambient soundscape which crescendos through programmed loops that become heated and intense until they collapse against one another with bliss. Expect The Eraser to delete any other artist’s chance of securing the number one spot on several critics’ top 10 lists this year.