Thursday, July 13, 2006

Karma Police, Arrest This Blonde


A Bush Twin Claps Thom Yorke's Eraser.

The cosmic bargain, shook on long ago, clearly states you can't pick your parents or your fans. This partly explains why Thom Yorke, so famously tormented by Radiohead's dizzying ascendancy, has been trying to thin the herd with increasingly inscrutable sounds and arrangements, constantly second-guessing the band's instinct for anthems with arty and invariably electronic detours.

The intent, aside from making some strikingly original music, was to scare off the sheep like a boozy fratboy trying to intimidate a blind date with high speed and fast turns. Except when Yorke finally pulls up to the curb, she doesn't want to get out. In fact, there are more waiting at the curb to get on board.

How else to explain the widely reported presence of one of the Bush twins at a Radiohead concert at Madison Square Garden last month? It's unclear whether it was Jenna or Babs, and really, it doesn't matter. They're basically interchangeable babia majora that came of age during the Republican happy hour, mute to the public imagination aside from the occasional party foul or middle finger to the paparazzi from the back of the limo.

The extent of the compromise between what the diehard fans want and what Radiohead is giving these days seems like peanuts compared to the Bush twins' concession: The coolest band in the world at the moment hates their dad and everything he stands for with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. After all, Hail to the Thief wasn't named for the Hamburglar.

So what to take from this? A grrl-power rebellion in the house of Bush? Maybe. But it's far more likely that going to Radiohead was just what the Prada-and-proud gang of dipshits at whatever A-list Upper West Side watering hole was doing after happy hour. If true, little girl Bush seems to have inherited her father's blind arrogance.

Wisely, the band was kept in the dark until the show was over. Still, I'd give anything to see Yorke react to a Bush in the sixth row. Actually, scratch that—it probably would've ended with Yorke being put to sleep by the guys in dark suits and earpieces.

There's a moment on The Eraser, Yorke's just-out solo album, where you can imagine the singer in his dressing room, being told the daughter of the most powerful and hated man in the universe is in the sixth row. "Well this is fucked up, fuck-ed up," he sings on "Black Swan," dragging the second syllable of "fucked" and giving it a sing-songy lilt that doesn't translate well to print, but you get the picture.

Produced by longtime Radiohead knob-twiddler Nigel Godrich and hatched on Yorke's laptop during downtime, The Eraser largely eschews six-string rockism in favor of noirish glitch electronica. It remains unclear why the songs here didn't just become an even-more-electronic-than-usual Radiohead record, which is basically what it sounds like.

A trial balloon for an eventual solo career? Yorke getting his blip-hop on one last time before the rumored return to straightforward verse-chorus-verse rock? Or maybe the guy just wants to share some ear doodles from his laptop without all the hyperventilating hubbub and unreasonable expectations that greet each new Radiohead album.

If The Eraser proves anything, it's that Thom Yorke doesn't make Radiohead. His Oxford rocker chums are the cape that hides the zipper on the back of his Superman costume. And what will he do without them the next time a Bush twin crash-lands on his planet like a hunk of kryptonite?

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