By Sydney Annis

The Smile, a new band to the music scene, is composed of legends Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, who are well-acclaimed members of the infamous band Radiohead. Tom Skinner, a former jazz drummer for the band Sons of Kemet, is also part of the group. While The Smile has a similar sound to Radiohead, they have added some unique elements that make them stand out. The Guardian critic Alexis Petridis described The Smile’s sound as “a simultaneously more skeletal and knottier version of Radiohead.” Furthermore, they have incorporated more of a progressive rock influence by utilizing heavy reverb, delay effects, and unusual time signatures. Previously, in 2022, they released their debut album titled A Light for Attracting Attention, which was highly successful. The album was reviewed by an established online music publication, Pitchfork, and received an 8.6 out of 10 rating. It was also included in their set of albums titled “Best New Music.”

However, the band recently released their sophomore album, “Wall of Eyes,” this past January. While many bands’ sophomore albums tend to taint their discography, “Wall of Eyes” did not succumb to that standard.

The opening track, “Wall of Eyes,” which is also the title track, sets the ominous and captivating vibe of the album. It was the second single released in 2023 as a teaser for their new record. The second track, “Teleharmonic,” transports the listener into an entirely different world. It contains several riveting layers of vocal harmonies and a gorgeous flute performance, adding to the album’s unique sound.

Following “Teleharmonic” are the tracks “Read the Room” and “Under our Pillows,” which stand out as the most prog-rock heavy out of all the tracks on the album. During “Read the Room,” Greenwood’s guitar begins on the sidelines and becomes heavily prominent during the song’s second half, adding a dynamic element to the track. His guitar playing has a King Crimson-type sound to it. Immediately listening to “Under Our Pillows” reminded me of “Thin Thing,” also a song by The Smile, for the riffs on the two songs are incredibly similar. The song has these eerie sounding vocals for the last two minutes, ending abruptly and keeping the listener on the edge of their seat. These two tracks showcase the band’s versatility and unique sound.

Next is the track “Friend of a Friend,” the final single released in early January 2024 as a teaser to the album. It is a sad and mellow song containing piano matched with steady drumming. Throughout the song, it builds up instrumentally and is cut off by Yorke’s emotional vocals. “I Quit” precedes this song, another emotional track. However, this is the only track that feels redundant, for it did not stand out amongst the rest of the tracklist. However, it is still an excellent song for being one of the weaker songs on the album.

The second-to-last track, “Bending Hectic,” is a highlight on the record. This eight- minute song was also the first single released as a teaser to the album back in 2023. It remains one of the most alluring tracks on this record, for it begins very mellow and then turns to this insane hard rock sound, truly showcasing Greenwood’s guitar ability. The final track, “You Know Me!” almost resembles Radiohead’s song “Videotape” from the 2007 album In Rainbows. Ending the album with a melancholy piano track that seems like the “Thom Yorke thing to do.” It has gentle piano playing alongside slow backing drums and emotional lyrics, such as “And when my back is turned, the point of a blade…” This song was a beautiful way to end the album, leaving the audience feeling moved and reflective, a testament to the emotional depth of The Smile’s music. With Radiohead’s impressive discography spanning nine critically acclaimed studio albums over 23 years, one would think that would be a satisfactory end to a music career. However, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner have defied expectations with The Smile and their sophomore album, “Wall of Eyes.” They have managed to create a sound that is both distinct from Radiohead and creatively unique. Whether you’re a Radiohead fan or not, The Smile’s “Wall of Eyes” is an album that demands your attention.