Album Review

Atoms for Peace - "Amok"

Released Febuary 25, 2013
Chad W. Lutz

On December 8, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a speech to the UN touching on the subject of the use of nuclear weapons in modern warfare. The purpose of the speech was to serve as a public service announcement and highlighted the brinksmanship tactics eventually used by the U.S. and Russia during the Cold War. Before the speech, most of the world's dictators had been silent about nuclear arms production and potentiality. It marked the first time a world leader, especially one from a country as powerful as the United States, had come forward to speak openly about nuclear arms in a diplomatic way. The speech was called "Atoms for Peace."

On February 25, 2013, perhaps without coincidence, super group Atoms for Peace debuted their inaugural LP, Amok, on XL recordings. The band consists most notably of Flea (bass) and Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano) as well as Nigel Goodrich (keyboards and synthesizers), Joey Waronker (drums) and Mauro Refosco (percussion). Goodrich has been listed as co-producer of every Radiohead album since OK Computer, and Waronker played drums for both Beck and REM. The band has played together since 2009, with Coachella 2010 serving as their first official vehicle.

From the very first song, the influence Flea, Yorke and Goodrich held over the production is obvious and apparent. Amok showcases a very different sound than most will admit they're used to hearing from Flea, but offers exactly what you might expect from Thom Yorke and Co. The album features heavy synth use and Yorke's typical dissonant vocals. Flea's bass meshes well with the trance tech styles of Yorke, Goodrich, Waronker and Refosco. Songs are ethereal and wispy yet layered and technical and lend to Kid A-era Radiohead with techno rhythms and lively backbeats.

The nine-track album sits at just under 45 minutes of playtime. Song lengths generally fall between 4:30 and 5:50. The shortest song, "Judge, Jury, and Executioner", comes in at 3:38. The length of the songs makes it harder to get into the album at times. The album doesn't really start to pick up until the fifth or sixth track, but enough to make you wonder if you just weren't listening close enough at the beginning of the album. The themes are hard to make out and take a few listens to really uncover under the thick and mostly unintelligible lyrics of Thom Yorke.