You didn’t think I’d forgotten about that 12” single that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke dropped on schedule this morning, did you? Heaven forbid. No, I’ve been listening to the single’s two tracks – “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses” (now with proper spacing!) and “The Hollow Earth,” both new, neither having anything to do with Yorke’s contribution to New Moon – since shortly after they leaked over the weekend. It’s just taken me a few days to decide how I feel about them.
Actually, the only one giving me any trouble is “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses.” As Yorke promised, it’s a “radical rework” of a song that Radiohead acolytes like me have been familiar with since the Amnesiac era, back when it was a hard-rocking live tune informally known as “Reckoner.” Now Yorke has deconstructed it over the course of seven minutes, starting with a minimal bass loop under his vocals. Nothing of much interest happens until the halfway mark, when various haunted synths start making themselves known. And…that’s sort of it. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth here. This is an enjoyable listen. It’s just not quite up to the lofty standard that this superfan holds Yorke to. Not when I can listen to his excellent acoustic performance of “Feeling Pulled…” from 2005 – much less 2007’s utterly genius “Reckoner,” which grew in part out of Radiohead’s attempts to capture this song in the studio. Right now, this one is at best my third-favorite of the “Reckoner”-related renditions mentioned in this paragraph. But hey, maybe it’ll grow on me?
As for “The Hollow Earth,” that one gets an unqualified rave from me. Yorke’s unabashedly poppy vocals in the first part of the song have proved divisive among some fans, but you know what? I love them. Can’t get ‘em out of my head. The whole song is a four-minute masterpiece, really, as catchy as it is glitchy – an ideal union of Yorke’s weirdest electronic urges and his intact melodic instincts. I’m especially fond of the sick drum-machine solos (yes, solos plural) at roughly 1:27 and 3:35. “The Hollow Earth” even comes with a cool-looking YouTube video, which you can watch below.
So go ahead, click play, then chime in: Have you heard Thom Yorke’s new single? Which side do you like better? How do you think this stacks up next to the rest of the amazing bounty of new Radiohead/Yorke material we fans have been blessed with this year?