Anima (Thom Yorke album)

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Anima
Thom Yorke - Anima.png
Studio album by
Released27 June 2019 (2019-06-27)
GenreElectronic
Length47:44
LabelXL
ProducerNigel Godrich
Thom Yorke chronology
Suspiria
(2018)
Anima
(2019)

Anima is the third studio album by English musician Thom Yorke, released on 27 June 2019 through XL Recordings. It was produced by Yorke's longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich, and developed through live performances and studio work. It was accompanied by a short film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson released on Netflix and in select IMAX theatres. Following the album release, Yorke embarked on an international tour.

Anima became Yorke's first number-one album on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. It was followed by the Not the News Rmx EP, featuring an extended version of "Not the News" plus remixes. At the 2020 Grammy Awards, it was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package; the Anima film was nominated for the Grammy for Best Music Film.

Writing and recording[edit]

Yorke wrote Anima following a period of writer's block and anxiety.[1] Inspired by seeing electronic musician Flying Lotus improvising live with loops, Yorke and longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich developed Anima through live performances and studio work. Yorke would send Godrich "sprawling" unfinished tracks and Godrich would edit the tracks into shorter samples and loops, which Yorke wrote vocals to.[1] They performed several Anima tracks, including "Not the News", on the Tomorrow's Modern Boxes tour.[2] Radiohead drummer Philip Selway contributed "sped up drums" to "Impossible Knots", and Atoms for Peace drummer Joey Waronker appears on the end of "The Axe".[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Anima comprises electronic music with "layers of electronic fuzz and deconstructed noise". Yorke said its themes include anxiety and dystopia: "For some reason I thought a really good way of expressing anxiety creatively was in a dystopian environment."[1] The title Anima, a reference to the psychoanalyst Carl Jung's concepts of the anima and animus, came from Yorke's "obsession" with dreams.[4]

Anima's music has been described as "full of wraithlike frequencies and fibrillating pulses".[5] "Traffic", the opening track, "channels the heady grooves and pulses of Floating Points".[6] "Dawn Chorus" is a "reverential song about loss, nostalgia, and regret" with "hushed", almost-spoken vocals.[5] The "Not the News" melody "evokes a ticking clock"[7] and builds to a "mass of chaotic orchestration".[8] "Impossible Knots" features a "propulsive electric bassline", whereas album closer "Runwayaway" has "trance-like" blues guitar.[5]

Promotion and release[edit]

Anima was promoted with a viral marketing campaign. In June 2019, posters in cities around the world appeared advertising "Anima Technologies", a company claiming to be able to recover lost dreams with a "dream camera". Calling the advertised number led to a prerecorded message advising that Anima Technologies had been "seized" after "unlawful activities", followed by part of the track "Not the News".[9] This was followed by projections on London landmarks.[10]

Yorke announced Anima on social media on 20 June.[11] It was released as a download and on streaming services on 27 June 2019, followed by CD and vinyl editions on 19 July 2019. The vinyl edition includes a bonus track, "Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You For Coming".[12]

On 2 August, Yorke released the Not the News Rmx EP on digital platforms, comprising an extended version of "Not the News" plus remixes by Mark Pritchard, Clark, and Equiknoxx. A limited-edition white-label vinyl version followed.[13] A music video for "Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)", blending 16mm, 3D and cel animation, was released on 30 October.[14]

To support Anima, Yorke embarked on an international tour, performing with Godrich and visual artist Tarik Barri.[15] The North American tour, due to begin in March 2020, was postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.[16]

Short film[edit]

Promotional poster

Anima was accompanied by a 15-minute film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The Anima film was played in some IMAX theatres and released on Netflix on the day of the album release.[11] It features Yorke's partner, actress Dajana Roncione, plus choreography by Damien Jalet and projections by Barri.[3] In the film, Yorke rides a train of uniformed passengers ("Not the News"). He meets the eye of a woman (Roncione), and pursues her when she forgets her bag ("Traffic"). They meet in the street, dance together, and board a tram ("Dawn Chorus").

The film began with a concept from Yorke about workers whose "bodies don't work any more" and are being "pushed by an invisible force". The team wanted the first sequence to be "oppressive and hyper-precise so it feels like a machine", influenced by dystopian stories such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Metropolis and the physical comedy of Charlie Chaplin.[17] For the "Traffic" sequence, the team created a platform inclined at a 34-degree angle and placed the camera at the same angle, erasing the slope.[17]

At review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the Anima film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 8.05/10.[18] It was nominated for Best Music Film at the 2020 Grammy Awards.[19]

Sales[edit]

Anima entered at number 50 on the UK Albums Chart, and re-entered at number five following its retail release three weeks later.[20] It was Yorke's tenth UK top-ten album (including his work with Radiohead), and his second top-ten solo album (after his 2006 album The Eraser).[21] Anima became Yorke's first number-one album on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart, selling 10,000 album-equivalent units in the week ending July 25, nearly all from traditional sales.[22] It also produced Yorke's first entry on the Dance/Electronic Songs chart, "Traffic", which reached number 47.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.0/10[23]
Metacritic84/100[24]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[25]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[26]
The Guardian3/5 stars[27]
The Independent4/5 stars[28]
Mojo4/5 stars[29]
NME4/5 stars[30]
The Observer4/5 stars[31]
Pitchfork8.3/10[5]
Q4/5 stars[32]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[33]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Anima has an average score of 84, based on 26 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[24] Philip Sherburne of Pitchfork wrote that it was Yorke's "most ambitious and assured solo album yet" and "the first one that feels complete without [Radiohead] behind him", awarding it "Best New Music".[5]

At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Anima was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.[19]

Accolades[edit]

Publication List Rank Ref.
Afisha Daily (Russia) The Best Foreign Albums of 2019
14
GQ (Russia) The 20 Best Albums of 2019 N/A

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Thom Yorke; all music is composed by Yorke and Nigel Godrich.[36]

No.TitleLength
1."Traffic"5:17
2."Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)"5:06
3."Twist"7:03
4."Dawn Chorus"5:23
5."I Am a Very Rude Person"3:44
6."Not the News"3:57
7."The Axe"6:59
8."Impossible Knots"4:19
9."Runwayaway"5:56
Total length:47:44
Vinyl bonus track[12]
No.TitleLength
10."(Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You for Coming)"4:58
Total length:52:42

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Anima.[37]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Joey Waronker – drums (at the end of "The Axe")
  • Philip Selway – sped-up drums (on "Impossible Knots")
  • London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir
    • Hugh Brunt – conducting, orchestrations
    • Talia Morey – copy
    • Galya Bisengalieva (leader), Alessandro Ruisi, Zara Benyounes, Alexandra Caldon, Venetia Jollands, Patrick Savage, Anna Ovsyanikova, Marianne Haynes – first violins
    • Eloisa-Fleur Thom, Emily Holland, Gillon Cameron, Guy Button, Nicole Stokes, Francesca Barritt, Violeta Barreña, Ed McCullagh – second violins
    • Ian Anderson, Clifton Harrison, Matt Kettle, Matthew Maguire, Diana Matthews, Alison D'Souza, Jenny Lewisohn, Meghan Cassidy – violas
    • Brian O'Kane, Reinoud Ford, Jonny Byers, Gregor Riddell, Zoe Martlew, Sergio Serra – cellos
    • Dave Brown, Roger Linley, Laurence Ungless, Gwen Reed – double basses
    • Pasha Mansurov (solo: piccolo, alto and bass), Zinajda Kodrič (II: alto and bass), Gareth Mclearnon (III: alto, bass and contrabass) – flutes
    • Craig Apps, Zands Duggan, Louise Anna Duggan – percussion
    • Josephine Stephenson, Héloïse Werner, Fiona Fraser, Harriet Armston-Clarke, Laurel Neighbour, Eleanor Gregory – sopranos
    • Rose Martin, Katie Schofield, Amy Lyddon, Emma Lewis, Lissie Paul, Judy Brown – altos

Technical personnel[edit]

Artwork[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[38] 23
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[39] 19
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[40] 10
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[41] 21
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[42] 58
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[43] 12
French Albums (SNEP)[44] 33
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[45] 21
Irish Albums (IRMA)[46] 19
Italian Albums (FIMI)[47] 15
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[48] 14
Lithuanian Albums (AGATA)[49] 24
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[50] 27
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[51] 35
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[52] 5
Scottish Albums (OCC)[53] 4
South Korean Albums (Gaon)[54] 86
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[55] 13
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[56] 12
UK Albums (OCC)[57] 5
US Billboard 200[58] 59
US Top Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[59] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Position
US Independent Albums[60] 36

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b Yoo, Noah (26 June 2019). "5 Takeaways From Thom Yorke's New Album, ANIMA". Pitchfork. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Watch Thom Yorke Discuss New Album ANIMA, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, More in New Interview". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
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  6. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (27 June 2019). "Thom Yorke review, ANIMA: Radiohead frontman explores the subconscious on this stark album". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
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