The Eraser

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The Eraser
Studio album by Thom Yorke
Released 10 July 2006
Genre Electronica, glitch pop, IDM
Length 41:01
Label XL XLCD200 / XLLP200
Producer Nigel Godrich
Thom Yorke chronology
The Eraser
Spitting Feathers

The Eraser is the debut solo album by Thom Yorke of the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released on 10 July 2006 through the independent label XL Recordings.

The album debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart and number two on the Billboard 200 in the United States, selling over 90,000 copies in its first week. It received positive reviews, and was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize and the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

A remix album titled The Eraser Rmxs was released originally as three 3-track EPs on 12" vinyl and as digital downloads in December 2007. It was later released as a CD & 12" vinyl in Japan in May/June 2008 and in the US in August 2008.

Background and recording[edit]

By 2006, Yorke had released six albums with Radiohead. He told Pitchfork: "I've been in the band since we left school and never dared do anything on my own ... It was like, 'Man, I've got to find out what it feels like,' you know? And it was good. It was a really good time."[1] He partly started the solo project to "approach and engage with computers and not a lot else, and yet still have lots of life and energy in the music."[2] He started with "random bits and pieces", cutting and pasting samples at random to generate ideas.

Yorke said that some of the tracks for The Eraser had been "kicking around in the background".[3] Two songs, the title track and "Black Swan", use samples of recordings made by other members of the band.

To create the title track, Yorke sampled a dictaphone recording of piano chords played by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood at his home. According to Yorke, "a year and a half later, I had to own up that I had sampled them, cut them into a different order and made them into a song."[4]

"The Clock" was influenced by Arabic music, "full of very quick, repeated guitar riffs."[2] To complete the lyrics, he translated the unfinished electronic piece into a guitar sequence, stating that "it sounded like this mad Johnny Cash skiffle tune".[2]

"Black Swan" dates back to the Kid A sessions, which "has this tiny, shredded segment of something", a sample created in 2000 by Ed and Phil, which Yorke "sliced [...] into bits."[4]

Yorke stated that "And It Rained All Night" has an "enormously shredded-up element of "The Gloaming" [from Hail to the Thief]", which Yorke recalled creating in New York City because he couldn't sleep one night as a result of heavy rainfall. Yorke commented on the bassline of the song that it created "little pockets of excitement that [he'd] missed for so long."[4]

"Cymbal Rush" is derived from "Try to Save Your Prize", a musical track from The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth Of All Time. Yorke reported that "Cymbal Rush" contained an element he had for three years, one little note from which he could "hear the melody in there straightaway." However, he said that "if you played it to anyone else without [him] singing it, you'd think, 'What's he on about?'"[4]


Yorke did not begin the Eraser project expecting to write songs with lyrics. Producer Nigel Godrich encouraged Yorke to make the pieces fully-fledged songs. Yorke found it difficult to write lyrics to samples and sequences, and had to translate the electronic music to guitar and piano to finish them. He said: "Writing to sequences and samples is a lot harder. When you listen to them over and over again, you can't react spontaneously and differently every time."[2][2]

Thom Yorke said much of his songwriting on the album was personal, but also inspired by the issue of climate change. Yorke was a spokesman for Friends of the Earth's "The Big Ask" campaign to reduce carbon emissions, and Radiohead played the first gig of their 2006 tour at a benefit for the group (performing "Cymbal Rush" before the album was announced).

"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech given by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. It is also the motto of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yorke later reused the title as the name of his Radiohead side project.

Regarding "Harrowdown Hill", Yorke said he had "already written part of it when he realized it was about David Kelly, a chemical weapons inspector in Iraq who allegedly committed suicide in 2003 after being connected to a leak of British intelligence about weapons of mass destruction."[5] In an interview with The Observer, Yorke said that "Harrowdown Hill" was "the most angry song [he'd] ever written in [his] life" and stated that he wouldn't discuss the background of it; "it's not for me or for any of us to dig any of this up. So it's a bit of an uncomfortable thing."[6] In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Yorke said that he had been "feeling really uncomfortable about that song lately" but felt that "not to write it would perhaps have been worse."[5] Yorke also notes that "'Harrowdown Hill' was kicking around during 'Hail to the Thief', but there was no way that was going to work with the band."[4]

"Analyse" was inspired by a blackout Yorke experienced in Oxford. Yorke used to live on a "historical street" with 1860s built houses in central Oxford and upon arriving home one night, the street suffered a power cut. Yorke explained; "The houses were all dark, with candlelight in the windows, which is obviously how it would have been when they were built. It was beautiful."[4]


A part of the album art. Buildings shown drowning include the Elizabeth Tower, the home of the Secret Intelligence Service at 85 Vauxhall Cross and Battersea Power Station.

The album's cover, a linocut by Stanley Donwood, depicts a figure in black hat and trenchcoat standing in imitation of King Canute, trying and failing to command the ocean.[7] Around him are iconic London buildings that have been swept away by the Thames, including the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and the Thames Barrier. Donwood included this picture and other images seen in The Eraser booklet in his art exhibition London Views, prior to the album's release. The images were inspired by a large flood Donwood and Yorke both witnessed in Cornwall in 2004.[8] Donwood's cover artwork for the album was announced the winner of the Best Art Vinyl award of 2006.[9]

The CD packaging of The Eraser is made of cardboard but unlike a digipak, it does not contain any plastic. Yorke said this was for environmental reasons; he also said in an interview that he did not have his CDs certified as carbon neutral as he did not believe carbon offsets were a constructive solution to climate issues.


On 11 May 2006, Yorke posted a link to the site on the Dead Air Space section of the official Radiohead website. Two days later, in an email sent to the owners of several Radiohead fan sites through W.A.S.T.E. (Radiohead's online shop), Yorke announced he was making an album and revealed a few details: it was produced by Nigel Godrich, comprises songs written and played by Yorke alone, is "more beats and electronics".[10]

In an email to a Radiohead fan site, Yorke said, "I don't wanna hear that word solo",[11] and asserted that the work was done with "their blessing", whilst the spokesman asserted that Radiohead were not breaking up.[3] Radiohead launched a tour to play their own new material, nearly coinciding with the announcement.

In 2009, Yorke formed Atoms for Peace to perform songs from The Eraser, playing eight North American shows in the spring of 2010.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[13]
A.V Club B+[14]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[15]
Pitchfork Media (6.6/10)[16]
Popmatters (7/10)[17]
Q Magazine 4/5 stars[18]
Robert Christgau B−[18]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[19]
sputnikmusic 3/5 stars[20]
Stylus A-[21]
Tiny Mix Tapes 3.5/5 stars[22]
Uncut 4/5 stars[19]

Critical reaction to the album was generally positive: based on 37 reviews by notable publications, review aggregator Metacritic gave The Eraser a score of 76/100, indicating generally favourable reviews.[23] Critics commented on the uniqueness and fragility of Yorke's voice.[24][25] Many reviews made comparisons to Radiohead; Andy Kellman of Allmusic stated that the album "sounds as close to a version of Radiohead minus four of its members as one can imagine", and similarities between ideas of The Eraser with Kid A were frequently noted.[26] However, Kellman also stated that the album differed to music Thom Yorke had created with Radiohead as it "[didn't] have the dynamics [...] held by any Radiohead album".[26] Louis Patterson from NME stated that "as a twin [to Kid A], it's every bit the equal" whilst Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said the album "is full of glitchy electro ballads, in the style of Kid A tracks like "Morning Bell" and "How to Disappear Completely."[24][25] Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis stated the album at its worst conjured up "the unlikely image of Autechre fronted by Private Frazer off Dad's Army".[27] Petridis described the lyrics as "one long defeated sigh, interrupted by the occasional tut and roll of the eyes" and associated the guitars on "The Clock" with grumbling.[27] However, Petridis did praise the album and stated that "elsewhere, the album offers a plethora of low-key delights", with "And It Rained All Night", which he said had a "compelling tension between the ambivalence of the lyrics – 'how come it looks so beautiful?' – and the music's relentlessness".[27]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Thom Yorke, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "The Eraser" (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood) 4:55
2. "Analyse"   4:02
3. "The Clock"   4:13
4. "Black Swan"   4:49
5. "Skip Divided"   3:35
6. "Atoms for Peace"   5:13
7. "And It Rained All Night"   4:15
8. "Harrowdown Hill"   4:38
9. "Cymbal Rush"   5:15


Sales chart positions[edit]

Country Position
Australia 2
Austria 17
Belgium (Vl) 3
Belgium (Wa) 5
Denmark 6
Finland 10
France 6
Italy 5
Netherlands 18
New Zealand 12
Norway 10
Spain 23
Sweden 21
Switzerland 10[28]
Title Release date Peak chart
UK US Mod Rock
"Black Swan" July 2006 40[29]
"Harrowdown Hill" August 2006 23
"Analyse" October 2006 136


  1. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (16 August 2006). "Interview: Thom Yorke". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 6 April 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Evert-Green, Robert (June 14, 2006). "Radiohead retooled". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Arendt, paul (16 May 2006). "Radiohead singer confirms solo album but denies rumours of split". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fricke, David (1 June 2006). "Radiohead's Thom Yorke on Going Solo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 July 2006. 
  5. ^ a b Everett-Green, Robert (14 June 2006). "Radiohead retooled". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 June 2006. 
  6. ^ Mclean, Craig (18 June 2006). "All Messed Up". Observer Music Monthly. Retrieved 18 June 2006. 
  7. ^ Powers, Ann (28 June 2007). "Thom Yorke, free agent". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 July 2006. 
  8. ^ Meacher, Colette (2006). "Got It Covered". Latest Art. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 
  9. ^ "Strangecargo news article". 5 January 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Solarski, Matthew (24 May 2006). "First Listen: Thom Yorke's The Eraser". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  11. ^ Petridis, Alexis (7 July 2006). "Thom Yorke, The Eraser". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "Q&A: Thom Yorke on Atoms for Peace's 'Mechanistic' New Album". Rolling Stone. November 5, 2012. Retrieved Feb 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ The Eraser at AllMusic
  14. ^,8867/
  15. ^ The Guardian Review
  16. ^ Pitchfork Review
  17. ^ Popmatters Review
  18. ^ a b Robert Christgau Review
  19. ^ a b [1]
  20. ^ SputnikMusic Review
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ Tiny Mix Tapes Review
  23. ^ "The Eraser by Thom Yorke". MetaCritic. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  24. ^ a b Patterson, Louis (7 July 2006). "Thom Yorke: The Eraser". NME. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  25. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (26 June 2006). "Thom Yorke: The Eraser". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  26. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  27. ^ a b c Petridis, Alexis (7 July 2006). "Thom Yorke, The Eraser". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2009. 
  28. ^ album international charts –
  29. ^ " – Artist Chart History – Thom Yorke". 4 August 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2006. 

External links[edit]