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Atoms for Peace

AMOK

Atoms for Peace
6
Thom Yorke might be the face, philosopher and shot-caller of Radiohead, but the mastermind is Jonny Greenwood. A listen to the hit-and-miss The Eraser or Yorke's spiritless Radiohead demos shows that the genius of the band's best songs comes from Greenwood's fertile mind. He adds the tempo changes, the instrumental flourishes and the chord changes that switch a song's direction and sends it down glorious, untraveled paths. So, here it is: AMOK needed Jonny Greenwood. That's not to say it isn't a good record, generally — there isn't anything offensive and the highlights ("Default," with its swooning, fade-in synth chorus, and the slinky, sensuous "Reverse Running") are very likeable, but for Yorke, who we're used to hearing as part of Radiohead, it's not enough. While AMOK makes for a pleasant listen, it hardly sticks in the mind, since all the songs feature the same general tempo and timbre: skittering beats, gently sung melodies and synth-y soundscapes. The absence of anything special from Flea suggests that Yorke had a vision for AMOK that didn't include any spotlight bass parts, and since Nigel Godrich is a regular presence in Yorke's music, he was unlikely to push Atoms For Peace's sound in new directions. The rest of the group — Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco — are session players, so their input was likely minimal. Yorke, it goes without saying, is a fine songwriter, so there's nothing particularly wrong with the solid AMOK. The problem is that there's nothing incredible about it, either. (XL)
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