EOB: Earth review – Radiohead's Ed O'Brien goes eclectic

(Polydor)

“I’m not a Ronaldo or a Rooney: that’s Thom and Jonny,” said Radiohead’s second guitarist, Ed O’Brien, in 2008. “But in my dreams I’m a Paul Scholes.” Thirty-five years in the same band leaves a lot of dream time – particularly when your bandmates are on to their second or third acclaimed releases with various solo, soundtrack and side projects – and O’Brien’s debut album, worked on since 2012, finally gives free rein to the creative playmaker behind his unassuming, dedicated team-player persona. Earth, inspired by Carl Sagan and Screamadelica, is eclectic, its shapeshifting songs spinning through folky ambience, euphoric electronics and pulsing dance-rock.

It’s best when subtlest – the brooding Mass, its guitars a tense electrical crackle – worst when, as on Deep Days, it recalls Badly Drawn Boy or millennium U2. “Vanity project” would be a cruel name for such a genuine album, but if O’Brien was someone else, it wouldn’t have been produced by Flood, released by Polydor, or feature Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche or, on the closing folksy duet Cloak of the Night, Laura Marling. Ultimately, Earth, for all its ambition, will mainly be of interest to Radiohead completists, who are now just missing the bassist: over to you, Colin Greenwood.

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Contributor

Emily Mackay

The GuardianTramp

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