"The standouts here rank alongside Radiohead's best": The Smile's Wall Of Eyes hops from wonky avant-samba groove to super-nimble math-rock gyration

Radiohead's breakaway trio The Smile return with psychedelic sambas and rule-bending jazz rock

The Smile - Wall Of Eyes cover art
(Image: © XL)

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More prolific than their now rarely sighted mothership band Radiohead, Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood's new trio project with drummer Tom Skinner are back, releasing their second album in just over 18 months with minimal advance fanfare. 

Wall Of Eyes is full of virtuosic style-hopping, from the title track's alluringly wonky avant-samba groove to the super-nimble math-rock gyrations of Under Our Pillow

A couple of makeweight Kraut-leaning numbers fall short of greatness, but the standouts here rank alongside Radiohead's best, their alluring aura of late-Beatles psych-pop underscored by a handful of orchestral arrangements.

One is the gorgeous, tumbling, melancholy Friend Of A Friend, a classic slice of Yorke-ish misanthropy couched in warm brassy ambience. Another is mesmerising former single Bending Hectic, a dreamlike ballad that freeze-frames on a vintage sports car hurtling towards a deadly Alpine precipice; imagine The Italian Job remade by David Lynch. Quality workmanship.

Stephen Dalton

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.