The Smile (band)

The Smile are an English rock band comprising the Radiohead members Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, bass, keys) and Jonny Greenwood (guitar, bass, keys) with the drummer Tom Skinner. They are produced by Nigel Godrich, Radiohead's longtime producer. They incorporate elements of post-punk, progressive rock, Afrobeat and electronic music.

The Smile
The Smile 30 January 2022 - 3.png
The Smile in January 2022. From left: Jonny Greenwood, Tom Skinner, Thom Yorke
Background information
Genres
Years active2020–present
Labels
Spinoff ofRadiohead
Members
Websitethesmiletheband.com

The Smile worked during the COVID-19 lockdowns and made their surprise debut in a performance streamed by Glastonbury Festival in May 2021. In early 2022, they released six singles and performed to an audience for the first time at three shows in London in January, which were livestreamed. In May, the Smile released their debut album, A Light for Attracting Attention, to acclaim, and began an international tour.

HistoryEdit

Jonny Greenwood said the Smile came from his desire to work with his Radiohead bandmate Thom Yorke during the COVID-19 lockdown. The pair enlisted the drummer Tom Skinner, who had played with acts including the jazz band Sons of Kemet.[1] The Smile are produced by Nigel Godrich, Radiohead's longtime producer.[2] Godrich said: "I think it just came out of Jonny writing all these riffs, waiting for something to happen. I think he was writing music and it's been such a weird time the last few years, [Radiohead guitarist] Ed's gone off and done his solo record, so that's kind of been out of the picture and then COVID hit."[3] Greenwood said: "We didn't have much time, but we just wanted to finish some songs together. It's been very stop-start, but it's felt a happy way to make music."[4]

 
The Smile performing in the round at Magazine, London, in January 2022

The band take their name from the title of a poem by Ted Hughes;[5] Yorke said it was "not the smile as in 'ahh', more the smile as in the guy who lies to you every day".[6] The Smile made their debut in a surprise performance for the concert video Live at Worthy Farm, produced by Glastonbury Festival and streamed on May 22, 2021. The performance was recorded in secret earlier that week and announced on the day of the stream.[5] The band performed eight songs, with Yorke and Greenwood on guitar, bass, Moog synthesiser and Rhodes piano.[7]

In July 2021, Godrich said that the Smile had recorded an album.[8] In September, Greenwood said they were still deciding what to include on the album and that it was almost finished.[4] DIY named the album one of their most anticipated of the year, speculating that it would return to "the scrappy, angsty music" of Radiohead's early work.[9]

Yorke performed a Smile song, "Free in the Knowledge", at the Letters Live event at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in October.[10] On January 29 and 30, the Smile performed to an audience for the first time at three shows at Magazine, London, which were livestreamed.[11] The band played in the round, and debuted several tracks, including "Speech Bubbles", "A Hairdryer", "Waving a White Flag" and "The Same".[12] The shows also included performances of "Open the Floodgates",[11] which Yorke first performed in 2010,[13] and a cover of the 1979 Joe Jackson single "It's Different for Girls".[12]

In NME, James Balmont gave the Smile's London show four out five, describing it as "meticulous, captivating stuff".[14] In the Guardian, Kitty Empire gave it four out of five, writing that "the Smile are most musically convincing when they stretch farther away from Radiohead",[15] while chief critic Alexis Petridis gave it three, saying it was "intriguing rather than dazzling, intermittently spellbinding, filled with fascinating ideas that don't always coalesce".[16]

A Light for Attracting AttentionEdit

On 20 April 2022, the Smile announced their debut album, A Light for Attracting Attention. It was released digitally through XL Recordings on 13 May 2022, with a physical release set for 17 June. The Smile also released the song "Free in the Knowledge", with a music video directed by Leo Leigh.[17] A Light for Attracting Attention received acclaim;[18] the Pitchfork critic Ryan Dombal wrote that it was "instantly, unmistakably the best album yet by a Radiohead side project".[19] It reached number five on the UK Albums Chart.[20]

The first single, "You Will Never Work in Television Again", was released on streaming platforms on 5 January 2022.[21] It was followed by "The Smoke",[22] "Skrting on the Surface",[23] "Pana-vision"[24] and "Thin Thing".[25] On 16 May, the Smile began a European tour,[26] with a North American tour to follow in November.[27] The tour included performances of the Light for Attracting Attention outtake "Just Eyes and Mouth", Yorke's 2009 single "FeelingPulledApartByHorses", and newly written material.[28][29]

StyleEdit

Consequence wrote that the Smile incorporate elements of post-punk, proto-punk and math rock.[30] Pitchfork likened them to Radiohead's "vintage rock sensibilities", with a "slight bounce to Skinner's drums" and "unfamiliar aggression from Greenwood in the bassline".[7] The Guardian critic Alexis Petridis said the Smile "sound like a simultaneously more skeletal and knottier version of Radiohead", exploring progressive rock influences with unusual time signatures, complex riffs and "hard-driving" motorik psychedelia.[31] Kitty Empire noted Afrobeat elements in "Just Eyes and Mouth" and influence from 1960s electronic music and systems music in "Open the Floodgates" and "The Same".[15] Reviewing "You Will Never Work in Television Again", the Pitchfork critic Jayson Greene described it as a "raw-boned rock number" reminiscent of Radiohead's 1995 album The Bends.[32]

MembersEdit

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions
UK
[33]
UK
Indie

[34]
AUS
[35]
BEL
(FL)

[36]
IRE
[37]
NLD
[38]
NZ
[39]
US
[40]
US
Indie

[41]
US
Rock

[42]
A Light for Attracting Attention 5 1 15 5 11
[43]
3 32 19 2 2

SinglesEdit

Title Year Album
"You Will Never Work in Television Again" 2022 A Light for Attracting Attention
"The Smoke"
"Skrting on the Surface"
"Pana-vision"
"Free in the Knowledge"
"Thin Thing"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood form new project, the Smile". The Guardian. 22 May 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Aubrey, Elizabeth (14 August 2021). "Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke give cryptic update on new project the Smile". NME. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  3. ^ Doherty, Niall (27 July 2022). "Lost in music: Nigel Godrich". The New Cue. Retrieved 27 July 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b Earls, John (3 September 2021). "Jonny Greenwood on writing the soundtrack for new Princess Diana biopic Spencer". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b Savage, Mark (22 May 2021). "The Smile: Radiohead stars to debut new band at Glastonbury live-stream". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  6. ^ Kreps, Daniel (23 May 2021). "See Radiohead side project the Smile perform new song 'We Don't Know What Tomorrow Brings'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b Hussey, Allison (22 May 2021). "A look at Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood's debut as the Smile at Glastonbury 2021 livestream". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Kot, Greg (23 July 2021). "Godrich on new Radiohead side project: 'An interesting juxtaposition of things'". Coda Collection. Retrieved 5 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "The 22 most anticipated new albums of 2022". DIY. 10 January 2022. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  10. ^ Strauss, Matthew (20 December 2021). "Watch Thom Yorke play the Smile's "Free in the Knowledge"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ a b Monroe, Jazz (30 January 2022). "The Smile's new songs, debuted in London, sound like Radiohead. (That's a good thing.)". Pitchfork. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  12. ^ a b Deville, Chris (31 January 2022). "Watch the Smile cover Joe Jackson's 'It's Different For Girls'". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  13. ^ Hogan, Marc (4 March 2016). "19 unreleased Radiohead songs that could be on their next album". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  14. ^ "The Smile live in London: Radiohead side project prove they're human after all". NME. 31 January 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  15. ^ a b Empire, Kitty (5 February 2022). "The Smile review – Yorke and Greenwood stay close to the mothership". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  16. ^ Petridis, Alexis (30 January 2022). "The Smile review – Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood give prog rock tendencies full rein". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  17. ^ Lavin, Will (20 April 2022). "The Smile announce debut album A Light for Attracting Attention". NME. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  18. ^ "A Light for Attracting Attention". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  19. ^ Dombal, Ryan (12 May 2022). "The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Harry, Drake and Foals: Who got the UK's Number 1 album this week?". Official Charts Company. 24 June 2022. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  21. ^ Rhian, Daly (5 January 2022). "Radiohead side project the Smile share debut single 'You Will Never Work In Television Again'". NME. Retrieved 5 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Moore, Sam (27 January 2022). "Listen to Radiohead side project the Smile's new single 'The Smoke'". NME. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  23. ^ Minsker, Evan (17 March 2022). "The Smile share video for new song 'Skrting on the Surface'". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  24. ^ Kreps, Daniel (3 April 2022). "Radiohead side project the Smile debut new song 'Pana-vision' in final Peaky Blinders episode". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  25. ^ Rettig, James (9 May 2022). "The Smile – 'Thin Thing'". Stereogum. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  26. ^ Richards, Will (18 May 2022). "The Smile debut new song 'Friend of a Friend' as they kick off European tour". NME. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  27. ^ Monroe, Jazz (13 June 2022). "The Smile to tour North America". Pitchfork. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  28. ^ Golsen, Tyler (19 May 2022). "The Smile premiere new song 'Friend of a Friend' live". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  29. ^ Lavin, Will (10 July 2022). "Thom Yorke confirms new Smile music is in the works". NME. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  30. ^ Young, Alex (22 May 2021). "Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood debut new post-punk band the Smile at Glastonbury". Consequence. Retrieved 24 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ Petridis, Alexis (23 May 2021). "Live at Worthy Farm review – beautiful music marred by technical meltdown". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ Greene, Jayson (5 January 2021). "'You Will Never Work in Television Again' by the Smile review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 5 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100 – 24 June 2022". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  34. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50 – 24 June 2022". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  35. ^ "ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart". Australian Recording Industry Association. 27 June 2022. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  36. ^ "The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  37. ^ "Top 100 Artist Album, Week Ending 20 May 2022". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  38. ^ "Discografie The Smile". dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  39. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 23 May 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  40. ^ "Billboard 200: Week of July 2, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  41. ^ "Independent Albums – July 2, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  42. ^ "Top Rock Albums – July 2, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Artist Album, Week Ending 24 June 2022". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2022.