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‘Wall Of Eyes’ - a blanket of sounds


By Kyle Walker

Staff Writer

On Jan. 26, the English rock trio, The Smile, released their sophomore album ‘Wall Of Eyes.’ The album was produced by Sam Petts-Davies and released on XL Recordings.

The Smile is a project made up of two Radiohead alumni, singer-songwriter-vocalist Thom Yorke and composer-guitarist Jonny Greenwood, featuring jazz musician Tom Skinner. 

Leading up to the album, the band released three singles, “Bending Hectic,” “Wall Of Eyes,” and “Friend Of A Friend.” At first, these singles didn’t catch my attention, quite unfortunately. 

Within the context of the album, I was able to see the true beauty of these tracks.

The album begins with the title track “Wall Of Eyes.” It starts quite soft, with finger-picked nylon string guitar and quiet ambient percussion, giving a more kicked-back sound. As the song progresses, it seems to get slightly more eerie yet more full and complete sounding with the addition of strings, auxiliary sounds, and Thom counting out the 5/4 beat in the left stereo channel. The placement of the drums adds a layer of dimension to this piece, best found when listening with headphones.

What I now appreciate about this song is how well it sets the stage for the rest of the album, and that’s exactly the role an album opener should play. It also just goes to show that context can change one’s initial perspective of songs.

“Telharmonic” continues the album and is one of my favorite moments on the record. It follows a similar trend of the opening track where it gradually builds to a more emotional section. The track has a more somber tone with Thom’s reverberant and almost haunting vocals. This track is beautifully written and packed with plenty of emotion.

“Read The Room'' disrupts the softer theme of the album thus far and instead follows a more psychedelic theme which seems to pay homage to rock of the ’70s. The song changes dynamics a few times, with heavy sounding verses, soft and twinkly choruses, and a final soft-rock interlude which carries out the rest of the song. Honestly, I would have liked to see a track this powerful as one of the singles for the album.

The song directly after, “Under Our Pillows,” follows the same psychedelic theme, opening with a strange staccato riff. About half way through, the song ends with a three-minute interlude which slowly builds with experimental sounds into a crescendo which then abruptly cuts to silence. This part is very “Beatlesque,” which I admire.

Toward the end of the album is the long-awaited “Bending Hectic.” This song was premiered at The Smile’s debut performance in 2021 at the online Glastonbury Festival. Since then, this song has been sought after by fans and critics alike.

The title is quite fitting as notes are getting bent in and out of tune in the beginning section, which makes the song feel unsettling. The lyrics depict a car accident, which is not uncommon for Yorke to write about. 

This accident is depicted over the runtime of the track, along with the thoughts of the characters in the song. This track begins with clean tone instruments and strings as the lyrics depict the car leaping off the side of a mountain, and as they near the ground the song explodes into a distorted jam with a blanket of textures and sounds.

I could have seen this being the ultimate album closer, and I wish it had been.

What I love the most about the songs on this album is the attention to the atmosphere for every track. Each layer or part plays a role, intentionally leaving empty space or adding onto it to add to the atmosphere of the record.

Overall, I absolutely love this album and I can already see it staying in my rotation for a long time.

Rating: A-

This is my album of the year, I’m calling it now.



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