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Hail To the Thief

Radiohead

2003

Hail To the Thief

Album Summary

Hail to the Thief is the sixth album by the English rock band Radiohead. It was released on 9 June 2003 through Parlophone internationally and a day later through Capitol Records in the United States. It was the last album released under Radiohead's record contract with EMI, the parent company of Parlophone and Capitol. After transitioning to a more electronic style on their albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), which were recorded through protracted studio experimentation, Radiohead sought to work more spontaneously, combining electronic and rock music. They recorded most of Hail to the Thief in two weeks in Los Angeles with their longtime producer Nigel Godrich, focusing on live takes rather than overdubs. Songwriter Thom Yorke wrote lyrics influenced by the unfolding war on terror and the surrounding political discourse, incorporating influences from fairy tales and children's literature. The cover artwork, created by artist Stanley Donwood, is a roadmap of Hollywood with words taken from roadside advertising in Los Angeles and from Yorke's lyrics. Following a high-profile internet leak of unfinished material ten weeks before release, Hail to the Thief debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and number three on the US Billboard 200 chart. It is certified platinum in the UK and Canada and gold in several countries. It was promoted with singles and music videos for "There There", "Go to Sleep" and "2 + 2 = 5". Hail to the Thief received positive reviews and was the fifth consecutive Radiohead album nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album; it won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Album.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.39

Votes

3209

Genres

  • Rock
  • Indie
Reviews
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5

Great pump-up album that sounds new. Timeless. Great guitar tones.

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5

It listens as the album where Radiohead mixed the elements from their rockier-oriented career start with their later electronic experimental style. Call it a Kid A meets OK Computer. This was certainly not an album I 'got' in just one listen. It has taken a few proper sessions to get through the somewhat dark and inaccessible layers this album has. Not just musically, but lyrically the band seems to be a lot more cynical and angry than I've known them. But I'm enjoying the album more with every listen, mostly because there's so much to discover with every playthrough. There are so many details that are revealed with each new listen, and those details are presented in a truly varied way. There is rarely any repetition; the variety is huge and you're traveling quickly from one place to another, which sometimes makes the album feel a bit disjointed at the start. But after a few listens I think only We Suck Young Blood is a lesser song on a truly great album. Slowly this might be becoming one of my favourite Radiohead albums. I'm putting it at 4,5*, but this album might end up as a 5* album in a few years if I revisit it.

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5

Radiohead is altijd top! Dit album heeft wat van alles: gitaar, piano, electronische muziek,... Heel goed album

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5

Hi. I might be the weirdo that thinks this is, song for song, my favorite Radiohead album. (I loved "In Rainbows," too, so consider yourselves warned.) I'd have to listen to "The Bends" again, but yeah. For me, I have always felt like they got the balance of the alt-indie rock stuff they'd done in the past with the electronic and looser song structure shit they were into on the two previous albums just right on "Hail to the Thief." It's a moody record. But they didn't forget that distortion pedals and guitars exist. But they added more vocal harmonies and let the bass guitar lead a little more here and there. I don't know. It's a weird mix and I know even Radiohead fans are soft on this one, but I saw them live on the "In Rainbows" tour and "Myxomatosis" just destroyed. All three of the final tunes here are as good as anything they've done, imo.

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5

Every song is a banger or is super memorable. I listened to this album years ago and still recall so much of it. Between hypnotic electronic ragas to and cryptic political rock bops, this album has a little something for every mood.

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5

I've heard this one before and I know it's a 9.5/10 the last .5 is saved for OK Computer and Kid A lol

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5

Tous les albums de Radiohead pourraient se retrouver sur cette liste vu qu'ils ont toujours cherché à se renouveler et ont presque toujours surpris à chacune des sorties d'album à partir d'Ok Computer. Cet album est un grand favori pour plusieurs pour le retour plus marqué des guitares et instruments plus acoustiques. C'est effectivement le point déterminant de cet album, mais les expérimentations de Kid A et Amnesiac sont bien maitrisées et servent bien les chansons ici. On est en territoire plus accessible en terme de mélodies, mais avec un petit edge intéressant dans l'emballage. Je crois pouvoir affirmer sans me tromper que c'est l'album qui se situe au centre de ce que Radiohead peut livrer comme chansons rock indies et expérimentations électroniques.

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5

Haha, 2e fois pour cet album cette semaine. Voici ce que j'en ai dit avec mon autre groupe: "Tous les albums de Radiohead pourraient se retrouver sur cette liste vu qu'ils ont toujours cherché à se renouveler et ont presque toujours surpris à chacune des sorties d'album à partir d'Ok Computer. Cet album est un grand favori pour plusieurs pour le retour plus marqué des guitares et instruments plus acoustiques. C'est effectivement le point déterminant de cet album, mais les expérimentations de Kid A et Amnesiac sont bien maitrisées et servent bien les chansons ici. On est en territoire plus accessible en terme de mélodies, mais avec un petit edge intéressant dans l'emballage. Je crois pouvoir affirmer sans me tromper que c'est l'album qui se situe au centre de ce que Radiohead peut livrer comme chansons rock indies et expérimentations électroniques."

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5

mint

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4

I don't think this one lives up the their previous album, The Bends, but it is still very solid. These guys are so unique. I really don't know why I've never listened to them all that much... except for the Pablo Honey CD I bought in middle school.

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4

I enjoyed this even more on the relisten

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4

Melodic and melancholic. Cohesive. The best of Radiohead's analog and digital sides. Conor - 4.2 Bill - 4 Shannah - 4 (4.06/5)

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4

This album defies any genre definition. There are rock tracks, electronic synth tracks, beautiful ballads and some jazzy moments, all bound together by a gloomy vibe, not least created by Thom Yorke's voice. I like a couple of tracks (especially A Wolf At The Door), but unlike a couple of other Radiohead albums, this album doesn't quite vibe with me. I wish it was different, because I can hear that there's some high quality musicianship in there. It just fails to reach me on any emotional level. Which is just too bad. 3.5/5

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4

I still haven't listened to enough of Radiohead's work, but I'm so glad this project keeps introducing me to their music. Fascinating band and I really like this album. Very interesting blend of electronica and rock. To me, at least, this music activates my brain in ways that I enjoy. Engaging, complex, and superbly performed.

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4

It’s a very solid album. However it did not blow me away like kid a/ ok computer did. There are a few stand out tracks: there, there being my favorite. But the album doesn’t beg to be listened to straight through the way Kid A does for me.

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4

Rating Radiohead is hard. I mean, this is a five star album. But it's less good than four or five five star albums by Radiohead. So I'm giving it four stars because relativity. Even though it's five stars in reality. You with me?

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4

2000s alt rock nostalgia 3.7⭐

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4

I like Radiohead a lot and this is a great album, but I don’t feel like I have anything new to say about this music

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4

Le premier d’une série d’albums qui se ressemblent tous. Celui-ci était nouveau et il marquait un autre renouveau pour Radiohead ce qui lui donne un point de plus que In Rainbows qui vient après mais qui sonne un peu redondant après Hail to the Tief. C’est excellent.

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4

A little experimental in the middle but less so than some other Radiohead albums. I’d rate it second best of their stuff.

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4

The most challenging and abstruse Radiohead album by far - even more so than the juvenile effort of Pablo Honey and the rhythmic jungle of TKOL. Took me years to get into and appreciate this one as a whole, so I fully understand all the low ratings here. The crowd-pleasing '2+2 = 5' is a fitting opener, as while it seems to herald a return to Bends-ish territory from Kid A/Amnesiac the shifting 3-act structure belies the melodic and rhythmic menagerie that follows. From here, the complete downshift into 'Sit Down' thus begins the surprising, hills and valleys that make up this LP. I think this is far and away the least polished RH album, especially given that Thom's lyrical subtlety is about as smooth as sandpaper throughout ("Fuck Bush. Fuck you, Bush. What were you doing in Iraq, Bush?"). Themes aside, even the instrumentals and vocals sound slightly rawer than the vacuum-sealed electronic efforts that came before. That's not to say they lack interest or staying power - 'Where I End' was one of the first Radiohead tracks I listened to on repeat solely for the bass, '2+2' shreds obviously, 'Young Blood' builds to one of the most satisfying climaxes in the group's discography, and even 'Gloaming' has a bit of frenetic charm to it. In describing these tracks, though, it's clear that the melodic throughline is a bit lax. Rather, the thing that holds this burgeoning mess of tracks together is the airtight production and distinct instrumental palette throughout. It's a recalibration period for the band, a step back to OKC territory but with a bigger synth presence after the practice afforded on Kid A and its twin. At its heart, however, is Amnesiac 1.5 in disguise - listening at all to Thom's lyricism betrays the same sense of curdled hope that has passed through cynicism into bitter despair. So yeah, there's a lot going on here. Not all of it works, it's bumpy tempo transition-wise, and some of it just isn't even palatable the first time around. But despite its flaws, the LP presents such a logical step in the band's discography and overall sound that it shines in context (and honestly presents some experimental pathways I wish the band had followed). I don't fault anybody who hates this on first listen or just doesn't get it - an album that requires understanding an entire band's output to 'get' isn't perfect by a long shot. For me, though, I keep coming back to this runt of the litter LP that wears its 'Scatterbrain' on its sleeve and finding things new to love about this band.

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3

Rock alternativo. Se me ha hecho un poco pesado. Ni fu ni fa.

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3

Am I the only one that thinks Radiohead is boring?

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3

This is some fine stuff, but I'm still dealing with my deep, deep feelings of disappointment at this and the two previous albums in the wake of Ok Computer, which I loved. I wanted more of that, and just didn't get it. I wanted fan service! There's good stuff on all the albums, but none of it got anywhere close to OK Computer for me. Not fair to compare an album to an expectation, but that's where it is. Some bright spots on this one, though - 2+2=5, Sail to The Moon, Go To Sleep, The Gloaming

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3

Slow and plodding.

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3

This was my first Radiohead album. I saw some release poster or something and thought “this is a band I hear about all the time lemme check them out”. I was underwhelmed and confused. Almost 20 years later and I’m happy to report that I’m still pretty underwhelmed and confused. This is almost good enough at times to rate 4 stars but then Thom Yorke opens up his whiney trap and I’m back down to 2. It averages out to 3 I guess.

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3

Radiohead makes me sleepy

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3

kinda slow

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3

Direct quote from my wife; “Oh my god that’s terrible. Turn it off.”

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3

Again, this would be like 3rd or 4th on my radiohead top albums list. Which makes me wonder where this list is coming from. Either they don't have ok computer and Pablo honey, which would be insane. Or they have at least 3 radiohead albums on the list, which makes me feel like the spots on the list are being inefficiently used. However, this was a decent album

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3

Not such a fanboy of this album... Maybe my least favourite

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3

Good chill rock, can be very slow and indulgent at times. Lots of ambience, if you're in to that sort of thing with rock music. It's personally too much for me.

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3

Sometimes criticized for not being as much of a reinvention as their previous few albums, this is a bit of a return to a more standard style (more guitar, keyboards, more usual song structures, recorded quickly and in a more live format), although this could hardly be accused of being a ordinary or pedestrian album. I find it a bit of a relief to return to something more approaching a band-like format rather than the deliberate experimentation of the previous few albums. it is hardly OK Computer, though. I found this pleasantly listenable, in not particularly memorable or enervating. It is nice to hear the occasional guitar that sounds like, you know, a _guitar_.

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3

Going into this, I know “2+2=5” and “Punch Up at a Wedding.” I like ambient and electronic music, though I never really got into Radiohead, who seem to famously fuse those sensibilities with rock. I read that 1) this album was recorded primarily with live takes to kind of dispel the machiney sound with all the electronics and 2) the themes are largely dealing with BBC coverage of the War on Terror, words infused with more emotion than they were reported with (according to Thom Yorke). I was born around this time, so I can only wonder if this album captures the atmosphere of the moment. So far, I think “Backdrifts” is a really standout track — I like the feel and the lyrics. The vibe dramatically shifts from that song to “Go to Sleep,” which is an acoustic guitar forward song. I really like “Where I End and You Begin.” There’s a dark sense of foreboding throughout this album — an attempt to unravel parts of reality and a fear of what’s beneath. Thought “the Gloaming” was cool — many of these songs would sound great in movies. I understand that the overall effect of this album may have been meant to come across as a spontaneous and experimental unleashing of bad phrases and stuff on tv and in the press and in reality. “There, There” really felt like one of the only full-fledged songs with a clear arrangement, not necessarily making it the best (or only) song on the whole record, but definitely making it stand out. Yorke himself thought this track was Radiohead at their best. Not surprised to see this was the first single from this album — it definitely feels like a thesis statement. “Punch Up at a Wedding” is a good one, too. I’m determining that I like the instrumentation on most of the songs, but kind of wish Thom Yorke would be quiet. It would probably be cool to see Radiohead perform this live, but I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t think I need to ever listen to this album again.

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3

La canción que abre, que fue sencillo y que creo que es la mejor del disco pone la barra bastante alta para el resto y al no ser fan de la banda, creo que nunca vuelven a llegar. No es mala música pero me despiertan nada.

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3

This is a difficult one for me to rate. I really do like the band, and maybe even more than that, I appreciate how innovative and groundbreaking they are. But, I don't know what any of these songs are about. I enjoy this album, more than the two preceding it, but OK Computer stands as the high water mark for me with this band. There is almost something deliberately obtuse about some of this music, which I also appreciate. I'm vacillating between a 3 and 4 on this (it's a 3.5 damnit), but saving a 4 for the Radiohead albums I'm more likely to better understand. So many great moments on this though — I love how Yorke uses his voice as another instrument in the arrangements.

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3

Curiós que fins i tot el pitjor disc de la banda estigui a la llista, tot i que sembla que va desparéixer en les últimes edicions. Malgrat ser clarament la seva obra més fluixa, continua incorporant tots els elements que han fet de Radiohead un nom intocable. Aquí simplement passaven per un moment baix d'inspiració

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3

I've always shied away from Radiohead. Too big, too ambitious. But it has to be better than bloody Coldplay. Hail to the Thief was a pleasant surprise. Some lovely harmonising and melodies. It feels a little dated and of the time with the subject matter. The world was a different place in 2003 when all we had to worry about was The War on Terror. This has quite a rainy day feel to it. Which was fitting as I listened to it on the day we had our first downpour in a couple of months.

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3

Like a soundtrack to a movie set in a future dystopian society

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2

Oof

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2

First listen. LIke the other Radiohead albums, it takes some time for me to get to know it. 2.5/5 for now...

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2

I dunno, it just feels like these guys are spoofers. I read so much about their music, and I get heated about giving it a listen, but when I get around to it, invariably I feel let down. Hail to the Thief is no exception. Anaemic for sure, and for all its ambition it also manages to be incredibly boring, the worst sin where music is concerned. Shit production too.

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2

Pieno di generi diversi, tutti tendenzialmente brutti. BAH

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2

Just felt this album was difficult and tedious to listen to

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2

While I can appreciate Radiohead's unique sound, largely due to Thom Yorke's creative genius, their music does very little for me. I find Thom's falsetto singing to be very whiny, and this album to be flat and depressing.

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2

Still whiney.

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2

While I wholeheartedly believe that OK Computer is one of the greatest albums ever written and will certainly give it a 5 when it come up on my list, I do not enjoy much of their work that came after. I do admit the fact that it is largely due to my distaste for electronica, in fact my summary lists it as my worst genre. That being said I do feel there is a reason this album isn't as well known as their other albums like The Bends or Pablo Honey, or even their electronica albums of Kid A or In Rainbows. It feels like a lot less of a complete album as the other, its folly is likely that it was recorded in roughly two weeks. I think it also leans too heavily on the electronics at times, but I am impressed that they were mostly live recordings rather than overdubs. The electronics are overwhelming on some tracks and when they aren't, Thom often uses the whiney voice that I just despise to hear on any album. "We Suck Young Blood" is a good example of this, it is a lovely bass and piano song that is simple and erie with a surprising but wonderful uptempo break in the middle, but the song is just ruined by the whine. Though I did not love the album it did have some favorable parts. The message of course is good I love when people take the opportunity to chastise the failings of George W. Bush, I mean I was a Green Day kid that loved American Idiot. I also enjoy the bass work that drives a lot of the songs. The tracks that incorporate what you might consider more typical rock aspects are also more appealing to me. While I didn't hate the album the listening fatigue set in quick. I do feel as though my hatred of electronica is jading my perspective in giving it a low rating. Towards the end I started to appreciate it more for some of the musicality, but the fatigue made it too hard to give a second chance. Maybe it'll be one I revisit when I finish the list or after I give more of Radiohead's electronica albums a closer listen. It probably deserves better than a 2, but today that is just what it gets.

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2

Unpopular opinion: No me pasa prácticamente nada de este disco. Lo primero es la voz de Thome Yorckeh: es chillona, es cansada, no me anima a cantar. Luego vienen las instrumentaciones: debo decir que sí, tienen momentos sorprendentes y do buen sonido, pero ugh, también está lleno de sonidos no-musicales que a diferencia de otras bandas (Pink Floyd, por ejemplo) aquí no me terminan de gustar. Quizá las últimas tres rolas del disco fueron lo que más me agradó. El bajo de Myxomatosis es realmente bueno (tenga sue segunda estrella) pero al mismo tiempo me da comezón una rola con esa temática.

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2

I really like There, There as a standalone song, the rhythm and the way the guitar punctuates the voice and the beat. I think they were trying something new with this at the time, but for me it hasn’t aged well. And old Thom’s voice just doesn’t do it for me - is too monotonous and whiney for a whole album of listening.

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1

Radiohead more like Radio bed

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1

Couldn’t stand listening to this

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1

Not my thing at all really

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1

Poopy

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1

I couldn't even get through this album. This is where Radiohead lost me. So whiny and depressing.

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