How do I open up a paragraph about this group? There really isn’t much to say about the group, Atoms for Peace, when they have a lineup like this. The super-group originally consisted of Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M., Nigel Godrich who is a world class producer and finally, Mauro Refosco, a major name in the percussion world. While two names might only stand out to you right away, the history and experience each musician brings to the table is arguably the greatest found in any super-group. Their experimental rock and electronic sounds have surfaced once again after a few years of hinting at an actual debut. Amok is finally here, and for some odd reason, it completely flew by me.
Radiohead was a band that had (and still does) have a major influence on me. The entire sound of the band is as unique as someone’s finger prints. The reason I mention this is because Atoms for Peace is primarily Thom Yorke, who is Radiohead’s vocalist. I remember hearing Kid A for the first time and wondering what music was before that listen. He seems to bring the same energy to his 2013 release, Amok. While I have to say it is not Kid A, it’s great to hear Yorke is finally inspired by music once again. Radiohead’s 2011 album, The King Of Limbs was arguably their ode to anti-music, even more than Kid A was. The texturizing sounds and droning segments really turned off fans of the band. With more inspiration from Thom, he seems to have made Amok.
The first thing I noticed about this album is it is catchy. Yes, there are no lies here. What The King Of Limbs didn’t have was enough hooks to capture an audience. Yes, the album as a whole was a beautiful piece, but to newer listeners, it would have turned off many. Amok opens up with the track, “Before Your Very Eyes”, and it’s instantly a groovy hit. The percussion line and little guitar squeals cooperate to make Thom’s delicate voice shine. Not to mention Flea makes the bass his bitch. His droning segment of pure funk makes this track a very strong opener. This sort of idea follows into the single, “Default”, but with a stronger Radiohead feel once the chorus hits. It brings me back to a time in between Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows (Think “15 Step” without the radio friendly sound.)
The entire structure of the songs are quite basic. Sorry old timers, no “Paranoid Android”‘s here. Amok is purely original. The entire 9 songs run. Solid 45 minutes, and carry out like a follow up to The King Of Limbs if they took away the weirdness and added a few more synths and drum machines. While I didn’t get any of Thom Yorke’s Eraser sounds, what I got was a lot of very smart and technical musicians helping Thom with his ideas. Take the track, “Stuck Together Pieces”, for example. There wouldn’t be a great bass line to open up with without the help of Flea. I also couldn’t get overjoyed about the clicking synths running behind the scenes without the help of Nigel Godrich, who is in fact Radiohead’s personal producer. Joey Waronker laid down a better drum track than Phil Selway could of and even provides amazing backing vocals.
Each musician provides something to show. I am a very big Radiohead fan, and although I didn’t enjoy what I heard originally with Atoms for Peace, it’s great to hear that the group is coming along and blending their ideas smoothly. Amok lays down some great tracks and blows a lot of the competition out of the water for new releases lately. That partially has to do with Thom Yorke giving us something to gnaw on since the singles of post-TKOL. I’d highly recommend this album to someone who has enjoyed post-2000 Radiohead or to anyone turned away from The King Of Limbs. You hear a whole nether side to the man we idolize over and he finally pulls through with some consistent material to brighten our 2013 year.