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Everything But the Girl is Radiohead's future


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If Radiohead are going to continue without repeating themselves, they need to move towards something like this, this, this or maybe even this.


They must kill off their abusive post-punk rockist superego once and for all.


Smooth folk-jazz (aka blue eyed soul, but so authentically, overwhelmingly white it will never be accused of R&B appropriation) is their true roots and what they've always had in them, and they will only be able to advance if they stop running away from that.


Solo Sting is the person who 2010s Thom Yorke often seems to want to be if only he would let himself, but if that's too uncomfortable to consider, think of post 1974 works by Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, who first created the potential of English language "sophisti-pop" to exist and justify its existence in a world where punk also exists.


Radiohead rejected punk long ago, and finally on the retrograde AMSP they rejected all forms of music created since the early '70s. But they still pretended to be something alien to themselves: a classic rock band.


Anyone who heard the 1986 demo knows classic rock isn't Radiohead's true identity. They've always been afraid their natural inclinations were "too" jazzy and "too" feminine or queer in the eyes of the English and American masses.


So they tried to blend in, they even fired their two "girl saxophonists" in their original lineup. They were ashamed of being cosmopolitan and tried to hide it for decades under a rock exterior but now it's time to embrace the group (not band) they've always been.


Present Tense and its Brazilian influences are a map to where they need to go.

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at this point im not expecting any major shifts in their sound, as a matter of fact im seeing a recent disarming of universal concepts and micromanaged tracklisting there was alot more effort put into hail to the thief tracklisting than a moon shaped pool


from what i can tell from the band unloading unreleased catalogue in past years with oknotok and amsp it either signals an end or hopefully im wrong and amsp was a loosened approach to hanging out with old friends and making music together and releasing those bits as effortlessly as possible to ensure that they all look forward to seeing eachother again in 4 years for new album  

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This wouldn't be any more of a major shift in their sound than AMSP, TKOL or IR, and it's a natural progression from these records, rhythmically and harmonically.


The thing that really would require a lot of change is Thom's lyrical style, which up until this point is rarely... sophisticated... enough to work with this genre. Like folk and jazz, from which it derives, this style is known for complex lyrics, often very personal, observational, specific and poetic. While musically layered and complex, it still centers lyrics rather than using them as vague placeholders in the way most alternative acts tend to.

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I'm not a fan of the term "sophisti-pop" at all, but it's a faster shorthand for the thread title than "musically/lyrically complex smooth jazz/folk/pop with soul and bossa nova influences and only the slightest dash of rock, usually made by British, Irish and Canadians who are late 20s or older and no longer care if the youth think they're cool, and are therefore cool."


Edit: changed thread title to EBTG.

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My contention is that Radiohead not only have the required tastes and skill set, they have already been almost doing this kind of sound for over a decade and their reticence in unapologetically doing this sound (Present Tense aside) is merely a sign of bad faith, prejudice and cowardice, a relic of the post-punk god they no longer even believe in, and a hindrance to the progression of their work in the way it seems to want to go.

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What songs on AMSP sound like they were made after the early '70s?


Post rock is something that can only exist as a response to the post punk, modern form of rock-- a deconstruction of post punk, modern rock. If something is based on pre-punk, hippie-era forms of classic rock, like AMSP is, then even if that album was rejecting standard rock song structure, instrumentation or production (which AMSP isn't doing, anyway), it would be more appropriate to refer to it as prog rock.


AMSP is a conservative record that might have deserved to be called mildly experimental or arty had it been released in 1971-4, but has nothing to do with any of the developments in music since the mid '70s.


Whatever genre you can call the individual songs, the whole thing adds up to classic rock because it sounds identical to many rock records of the early 1970s that are now seen as classic rock (even if you can put them in subcategories like folk rock, psych rock, krautrock, art rock etc). Like all genres, "classic rock" isn't a real thing, but it's a shorthand to describe an aesthetic and social scene that AMSP era Radiohead fits into.


Radiohead seemingly can't move past nostalgia for their childhood on AMSP, which sounds like the music that was new when they were toddlers. Just like the Brexit voting public whose politics they reject, they can no longer envision any future beyond the mostly-imagined and idealized past of their parents' generation.


So it would at least be more exciting if they would move the horizon of their retromania forward and draw on the pop modernism of the mid '70s to the early '90s, the music of their own youth, the songs they secretly loved but had to pretend not to, because hypocritical punk "daddy" was watching and ready to discipline anyone for liking "sellouts" Everything But the Girl, Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti, let alone George Michael.


Even Joni Mitchell was considered unacceptable to like by post-punks for most of the '80s.

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people get away scottfree with throwing names all over the place,  i hate how skrillex music is called dubstep when it has no 2 step drums whatsoever, some college kids jus liked the name and i guess no one cares and nwo we have a drum n bass 2 step dubstep and a club wobble dubstep that sound nothing at all alike but share a name  


its easy to say anything that sounds before its time is 'progressive' and anything with wind instruments added is 'jazz influenced'


and most definitely easy to say anything that has multiple influences is 'postmodern,' postmodern is not always used by its definition, people put multifluenced music in that category because everything has already been done under the sun and because this band had to incorporate indian influence or african drum etc to sound new and fresh, its same reason and rhyme as postrock 


im not justifying it, im pointing out how lazy it is but its the language everyone uses, like you can go around calling red the color blue to people and i can assure you it will never catch on hha


i hope postrock and dubstep go same way as pluto and are categorized as the dwarves they are someday

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If Radiohead are going to continue without repeating themselves, they need to move towards something like

, this or maybe even


Smooth folk-jazz (aka blue eyed soul, but so authentically, overwhelmingly white it will never be accused of R&B appropriation) is their true roots and what they've always had in them, and they will only be able to advance if they stop running away from that.


Present Tense and its Brazilian influences are a map to where they need to go.


1. hell no, no, no and definitely not.


2. good god no.


3. no.  ok well maybe a little.


national anthem, 



glass house,



the numbers,

in limbo,


all that jazz and all those electronics should spawn in the ocean until sweet aphrodite rises out of the sea foam. 




really not hoping for something as boring and pseudo jazzy as ebtg, blue eyed soul, or badly dated 80s pop.

i like george but there was only one george and i don't even get how he got brought into this. dude had a lot of talent but he was also producing a consumer product designed to sell sell sell. can't see how those roads are meant to converge. 

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the songs they secretly loved were on bitches brew but they didn't think they could get a record deal or fill a concert hall if they made music that good. thom said there's no money in jazz.


but now that they have money, a label, and a fan base, i have my fingers crossed.

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Thom has never written anything this good.



Some On a Friday/Radiohead is similar tho, which makes sense. Thom was (secretly, as he rarely mentions it) an EBTG stan growing up.


"Sometimes," he says about the fans outside, "I'm in a real state after a show, and I can't talk to them, and I always feel bad afterwards. I remember when I was in that position, getting drunk, talking to Everything But the Girl, and we had a really nice chat when I was 15. And then I've met some other guys who were total assholes. But now I realize that sometimes you're just too tired to deal with it. But when you walk out of a venue like that and say 'No autographs' then it's like 'Fuck you!'"

Tracey Thorn also loved In Rainbows.
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I think it’s unwise to try to pigeon hole Radiohead at this point. It’s fairly obvious they are inspired by a host of different sounds and genres and at this point are just mixing up the medicine and seeing what comes out.


They can continue to go from Ill Wind to Ful Stop to Daydreaming and I’m pretty cool with it.


Thoms got an electronic itch that he can never seem to fully scratch and now you’ve got Jonny really pulling his weight in terms of orchestral arrangements, excited to see what Ed kicks up if the talk of Brazilian jams are to be trusted.


Not really interested in a true blue 80s jazzy alt rock album.


I think Radiohead are beyond the hyper focused sounds of their early albums. Your more likely to get a smattering of all their influences at this point.


We are in the White Album days.

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So you want them to make a sequel to AMSP with the same exact aesthetic? That aesthetic was not the norm of Radiohead, it was actually a betrayal of the band's core identity up to that point, which had entailed a rejection of nostalgia. To repeat what was already a retro aesthetic, some years later, would be an even further betrayal.


AMSP, far from being assembled from diverse odds and ends by random chance, has the most unified aesthetic of any Radiohead album, with the entirety of the thing being recorded using old technologies and making use of late '60s/early 1970s style psych rock/baroque folk instrumentation.


Jonny teased in initial comments that the project would mix very new and very old technology. This may have been the initial plan, but it turned out not to be true at all, much to penny's chagrin (remember his theory that this would be a Life of Pablo-style performance art piece where the actual album would be created in real time by live performances, and subject to listener choice).


In fact, the album uses exclusively old music technology where it counts: what the listener hears. It might make use of some digital editing processes, but if so, they are designed to be completely inconspicuous and inaudible. Even Daydreaming's vocal effects still resemble what was achieved with analog means in the original Twin Peaks sound design, or numerous tape looped backwards effects in '60s-70s rock.


I repeat my earlier challenge: please find a song, or even a moment on AMSP that sounds like it could not have been created before 1975-6 (at which point Thom was 7-8 years old). Such moments do not exist, such songs do not exist. When you set out to create, in 2015-6, an album that sounds more than 40 years old, evoking the music of your earliest childhood, and contains zero moments of production, instrumentation or songwriting that break the fourth wall to inform you in fact it is 2016 (the closest one is lyrical-- "strike up the tinderbox"-- but even that is vague enough to refer to the original meaning of tinder) that is a very clear aesthetic statement, possibly even an ideological statement.


It is not simply a choice. It is a choice that requires immense, immense effort to realize, much as it requires immense effort to clear the streets of modern cars and paint out all instances of modern technology when making a period piece. It is very costly (check out the rates for La Fabrique studio) and it is very hard in practical terms to create such a bubble around oneself and live artistically in the past. No one undertakes such a choice accidentally, or sees such a choice through without fully intending the outcome.


Even most of the supposedly "retromanic" albums that have been created by millennials have many more eruptions of the present than AMSP. Even Bruno Mars has some things that betray him as a modern artist (which actually makes his music more honorable than if it was purely pastiche). It's extremely rare to find an album that received such high acclaim as AMSP and is solely a pastiche of an earlier era. In a sense, critics gave Radiohead a pass for being reactionary, whereas they usually attack other artists for doing the same (even if the result is technically a perfect recreation, and is enjoyable).


I understand that this forum contains some people older than the band, and if so, perhaps these posters stopped listening to new music as avidly around that time, and the music that existed in the early '70s when the band members were prepubescent, is simply the norm of what music should be. When new music returns to that exact sound, it is their Proustian madeleine, nostalgically appealing to a baby boomer or an older gen xer rock fan in much the same way as an '80s- or '90s-sounding modern album is nostalgic for millennials. I understand this. I also happen to like the early '70s sound more than perhaps any other rock sound, even though that's not even my generation. Feist's Metals is another example of a 2010s album that, like AMSP, relies on a very retro sound, and I consider Metals a near masterpiece.


Why "near" though? Why is Metals never going to be comparable to For the Roses, even though it is arguably more consistent? Why is AMSP not deserving of comparison with Meddle? Because there is something wrong when it is considered in some way avant garde, alternative, independent and tasteful to offer a mere mimicry of what was fashionable 40 years ago, without any effort (as Lana Del Rey controversially, and admirably, makes) to engage with the present and the progressions and regressions that have been brought about by time.


LDR is uncomfortable for many older listeners who remember the '60s/70s, because of the way her music foregrounds the way things have changed and not changed since the good ol' days they idealize. Rather than trying to convincingly recreate the '60s/70s (or to recreate the early '90s alt rock scene that produced Creep, for that matter) Lana does something more philosophically mature, calling intentional attention to the artifice of any such recreation and making music about the perils and pull of nostalgia. What Radiohead does on AMSP is more comfortable and therefore less artistic: they method-act the role of a 1970s classic rock band with such aplomb that most listeners painlessly absorb their new music as nostalgia, rather than as a critique of nostalgia.


My suggestion for Radiohead's future development in this thread is predicated on the band's abdication in recent years from the role fans had once believed they occupied, as musical progressives. If they are not to be progressives, and indeed if their attempts at progression are to be greeted with sneers and jibes that it sounds like "a mechanic's garage" and isn't even music (as TKOL was greeted here and elsewhere, even still at the time of AMSP's release) then all that remains is to find the styles of the past that are best suited to Radiohead's instrumental skill set (which actual, improvised jazz and avant garde work, for example, is not) and which split the difference between the band's own sophistication and their more musically conservative listeners (which TKOL apparently failed to do, a sign that they certainly shouldn't try anything more "experimental" than that).


The most complex yet satisfying style that can push their skills in new areas while still appeasing their middle of the road fans, lies in this area of smooth jazz/sophisti-pop/blue eyed soul. It's also something that might help Thom make some real improvements as a vocalist and songwriter (because it demands more vocal and lyrical character and specificity, as the music is unpretentious and professional to the point of seeming "boring" unless paired with strong, singular lyrics). Judging by their flirtations with these sounds on parts of the last three albums, this sound also seems to give the band members joy to play, which makes sense, considering they've spent decades wanting to play it before finally allowing themselves to.


For some bands, there would be another way out of the corner Radiohead have painted themselves into, the opposite of smooth jazz/blue eyed soul: a punk record. This option was still open to Radiohead until last year. Punk, however friendly it has historically been to fascists within its midst, requires a moral authority (a belief by the audience that the singer is a credible rebel, whether or not they actually are) that Radiohead, fronted by a rich guy who breaks a picket line to play Israel, cheats on his dying partner and sells $130 reissues, no longer possess in the eyes of even their biggest fans. It isn't that we would spurn a punk record as a decent piece of music, but one measure of punk is whether it is taken seriously, and nothing of that nature could be.


Who wants to hear Thom being angry on our behalf, let alone (another key part of punk) turning his anger on us? Who would enjoy that? Punk would be merely a pose, like prog folk or any other genre of the past to be excavated. As such, they might as well excavate other genres that better suit their role as musicians at the present time.


No one should be under the assumption that being Everything But the Girl was as easy as they made it seem. The ease of soft and smooth sounds can be disarmingly difficult to create, requiring levels of musical skill and maturity and rigor and fearlessness that most musicians will never have and even the band members of Radiohead may only be approaching now in late middle age, and may yet have work to do. Such a sound may turn out to be unattainable, as well, especially given the weakened vocal instrument Thom has to work with. Even at vocal peak, he's never been a Tracey Thorn.


If they pursue this direction to its end point however, I do have faith they will discover something there which we have yet to hear, or at least something we haven't heard from them, and maybe even something a lot of fans have difficulty imagining, so that's more exciting than rehashing their own past.

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"The 'marginal' was only marginal in a conservative and reactionary definition, in how you simply measure it from a conservatively given 'centre.'... I began to think that the so-called marginal was a place that possibly only reinforced things, and didn't challenge things."

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