Hail to the Thief

OK, let’s just say it: Hail to the Thief is the closest anyone’s come this year to making a classic album along the lines of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s the kind of disc that needs to be taken whole-cloth—a haunting, ragged jumble of mournful, minor-key melodies, enervated guitar squalls and bleating electronic textures that coalesces into a coherent song cycle that animates hope, frustration, rage and loss. Radiohead clearly has incorporated its experimental phase (2000’s Kid A and 2001’s Amnesiac) into the more conventional narrative structure of the earlier Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. The result manages to sustain a mood from start until finish, evoking more than a few album-rock touchstones along the way. It’s a record that people will be listening to years from now.