The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention review – almost as good as a new Radiohead album
The first time most of us heard of the Smile was a year ago, when the band debuted at Glastonbury’s Live at Worthy Farm, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, alongside Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinnner, delivering an enjoyably punchy performance. Away from Radiohead, both Yorke and Greenwood’s work has tended to the austere, whether electronic or classical, so it was a joy to hear them let loose on spiky post-punk tracks such as You Will Never Work in Television Again.
As with Radiohead’s last album, 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool, A Light for Attracting Attention relies on a lot of unreleased old material that has been played live by various incarnations of the Smile’s parent band over the past two decades, given a stately studio finish with the help of the London Contemporary Orchestra. Yorke is in excellent voice throughout, keening his dystopic madrigals with precision. He even makes self-immolation inspired by climate change seem teasingly romantic on The Smoke. The languorous, sadder songs have all the rich delicacy you could hope for, particularly Skrting [sic] on the Surface, Pana-vision and the stunning Free in the Knowledge. Almost as good as a new Radiohead album.