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The Smile have just released the best Radiohead album in over a decade

Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood stay close to home with mighty new jazz-rock trio The Smile

The Smile: A Light For Attracting Attention cover art
(Image: © XL)

Unveiled last year with a surprise live show, The Smile marks Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood's first first full-band collaboration outside Radiohead. Working with versatile, sinewy drummer Tom Skinner from kinetic free-jazz collective Sons of Kemet, the pair draw on decades of fertile creative chemistry for this eclectic debut, free-forming across a broad stylistic range from knotty post-punk to woozy analogue folk-rock to luminous electro-orchestral abstraction. 

Six years after Radiohead released A Moon-Shaped Pool – their longest album gap to date – A Light for Attracting Attention could comfortably have borne the duo's day-job band name without sounding incongruous. 

Longtime producer Nigel Godrich is behind the desk, after all, and several of these tracks pre-exist The Smile. A handful sprawl and meander a little because, hey, who would dare edit two revered avant-rock overlords? 

But otherwise quality levels are reliably high, with Yorke channeling vintage Neil Young on Free In The Knowledge, snarling American-accented punk vitriol on You Will Never Work In Television Again, and cooing wistful traumatised-choirboy sighs over Greenwood's exquisite filigree guitar-picking on Skrting On The Surface. Whatever the label says, this is the best Radiohead album in over a decade.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.