The man who once sang "Anyone can play guitar" often chooses not to on his solo debut. Instead, Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich build The Eraser on the same surround-sound circuitry that bolstered the last few Radiohead albums. The solo project is hardly a sign that the singer will abandon his mates indefinitely to do his own thing: Yorke's thing and the band's are one and the same. He's guilty of self-plagiarism, sometimes to a maddening degree. Certain elements -- the piano line that falls in and out of synch with Yorke's lazy vocals on "Analyse," the skidding bass that lays the groove for "Black Swan" -- are so familiar, it seems as though they must have been used in a Radiohead song. But which one, dammit? (This also explains the rumors that an early version leaked online was nothing more than a batch of Kid A outtakes.)
While Yorke mimics many of his band's aesthetics, The Eraser lacks Radiohead's rare outbreaks of euphoria, not to mention those moments when the murmuring sleepwalker wakes with a jolt, screaming about Gucci little piggies. Here, Yorke rides the hills and valleys of his mood swings, but with the amplitude turned way down. The disc could use a good, big-kid tantrum, which "And It Rained All Night" feels set to provide. The track kicks in with an insistent beat and clicking drumsticks; Yorke actually sounds alert. But halfway in, he switches to despondent falsetto, and it becomes apparent that the song (like the album) must be accepted for what it is -- pleasantly hypnotic but without a single explosive incident.
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