Watch Smile perform seven unreleased songs live

IN Radiohead’s world, songs often drag at a glacial pace.

Take “Burn the Witch.” According to Producer Nigel Godrichthey first began workshopping this electro-orchestral jackhammer around “the end of [2000’s] Child A,” and the band’s subsequent banter—i Reddit AMAs and album artvia interviews and online diary entrieseven though on the stage – gave the track, if it actually existed, the aura of a relic. For those who had been watching, it was almost surreal dauntingto finally hear the finished product about 2016’s A moon-shaped pool. The stakes felt, um, pretty high!

But Smile — Radiohead’s main creative forces, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, with drummer Tom Skinner — doesn’t seem bothered by the pursuit of capturing perfection. Their debut LP, May’s A light to attract attention, is often structurally complex, full of tricky time signatures and ever-changing grooves; but the mood is looser and less demanding than a typical Radiohead record – even, perhaps ironically, more spontaneous. Further evidence: During their European tour behind the album, The Smile have already debuted six new songs in concert.

Add a living staple that (beyond all conventional logic) didn’t Attentiona couple of exciting soundchecks and two study extract used in Peaky Blinders series finale, and it looks like they already have enough material for a follow-up.

While we wait for a further announcement – and hopefully more new songs during them North American race — let’s rummage through everything in the Smile pile.

“Just eyes and mouth”

The biggest musical injustice of 2022 is Smile scrapping “Just Eyes and Mouth” from their still-phenomenal debut. As you can gather through the many Twitter and Reddit complaints, fans had become quite attached to the song – one of eight revealed during the band’s first performance in June 2021, during Glastonbury Live on Worthy Farm stream. It’s one of their most enchanting tunes, Yorke wrapping a wriggling melody around his own Fender Rhodes, Skinner’s funky drumming and Greenwood’s astonishing guitar hammer-ons. Why it missed the album cut is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear how much they like it – on stage it’s become their encore, prompting Yorke to let loose with adorably boring dance moves.

First performance: 22 May 2021
Recent performance: 20 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 36

“People on Balconies”

Debuted during a mid-May show in Croatia, “People on Balconies” is the lightest and most exuberant of the unreleased crop – Yorke plays a soulful bass line that saunters around the neck, and Greenwood keeps things pretty simple on the piano. But the arrangement is subtly weird: full of shifts in feel and time signature, culminating in a fusion-like drum pattern. “One of the things I remember about the pandemic was in Italy, all the people in apartments, they didn’t let them out … at all,” Yorke said on stage at a show, introducing the song. “People are stuck in apartments, they went out on their balconies and talked to each other and started singing. And it really stuck with me. So I decided to write a song about absolutely nothing.”

First performance: 16 May 2022
Recent performance: 11 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 15

“The bodies laugh”

Back in 2006, Radiohead briefly rehearsed a song called “Bodies Laughing” and even added it to their packed blackboard of ongoing ideas. But it never saw the light of day: “Yeah, we never really got it together,” guitarist Ed O’Brien told a fan two years later. “It’s kind of a Brazilian bossa nova kind of thing…” To the surprise of hardcore fans, The Smile debuted a track of the same title during a May show in Berlin – but Yorke’s stage intro (“Yesterday we wrote another new song “) questions the timeline. Is this a new arrangement of the old castaway? Is it something else entirely? Yorke has been known to revive old titles: Radiohead once played a rabid live rocker by the name “Raining,” only to release a dreamer, totally unrelated Raining in the 2007s In rainbows. To add to the hilarity, in 2009 Yorke reworked the original arrangement into a 2009 electronic solo trackand then played versions of it live with two different bands: first Atoms for Peaceand now with Smile. Wherever it came from, “Bodies Laughing” is a killer, riding a muted Greenwood bass pattern and stretching into jammy territory with Yorke’s sustained guitar solo (played on what appears to be O’Brien’s signature model).

First performance: 20 May 2022
Recent performance: 20 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 28

“Colors Fly”

A kind of spiritual cousin to Attention Deep cut “A Hairdryer”, “Colours Fly” finds a hypnotic middle ground between Krautrock, jazz fusion and raga rock. Yorke opens the track unaccompanied, building a mantra-like drone with his echoing vocals (“You can change your mind”) before the band enters and the time signatures become complex. This one is mostly about the instrumental dynamics, how Yorke’s throbbing finger-based bass plays off Greenwood’s pinprick electric guitars and Skinner’s relentlessly driving drums.

First performance: 7 July 2022
Latest performance: 20 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 18

“Bow Hectic”

When it debuted in July at the Montreux Jazz Festival, “Bending Hectic” was so fresh that Yorke had just put the finishing touches on it that night: “Yeah, I can see the words,” he said on stage. “That’s good because I just wrote them half an hour ago.” However, the lyrics are secondary to the mood: a headphone-friendly slow build from Greenwood’s massive, reverberating string bends to a shoegaze-y climax filled with ferocious guitar soloing and Yorke’s lithe falsetto.

First performance: 12 July 2022
Latest performance: 20 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 6

“Under Our Pillows”

“Under Our Pillows” opens with a twitchy, delayed guitar figure to match Attention‘s “Thin Thing,” and the first third plays out almost like a sequel to the gnarly track. But the piece opens up in its middle section, and the mood shifts to slow-motion atmospherics with Yorke’s shimmering keyboards. Then comes the biggest surprise at the end, when the front man bangs out a heavy stoner-rock riff. There’s a palpable looseness here—the arrangement feels open and exploratory, as if they’re working through the sequence in real time.

First performance: 14 July 2022
Latest performance: 15 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 2

“It” (or “It/Flangers”)

Yorke playfully introduced “It” (or, according to the setlist, “It/Flangers”) during a show in Taormina, Italy, giggling and speaking in the country’s native tongue. (Anyone want to translate?) The following song could be Smile’s heaviest: Greenwood’s woozy, delayed riffs; Yorke’s downright dirty fuzz bass; and Skinner giddy behind the kit as he navigates the rhythmic hiccups. About halfway through they switch to abrasive Krautrock, a platform for some experimental guitar theatrics. Fingers crossed they keep this one – it’s a monster.

First performance: 20 July 2022
Latest performance: 20 July 2022
Overall achievements (so far): 1

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