The Smile’s project was clearly not just a Radiohead spin-off after listening to their debut album, “A Light for Attracting Attention,” released in 2022. While the debut contained more than a few nods to Oxford’s band production (with forays into alt-rock territories and gritty post-punk episodes, embellished by semi-acoustic gems like “Free in The Knowledge”), in “Wall of Eyes,” Tom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, aka The Smile and 2/5 of Radiohead, take a trajectory that further marks the distance from their main project, which has been on standby since 2016. Perhaps more than distance, it can be described as transcending.



“Wall of Eyes” is a cohesive and homogeneous atmospheric album, cinematic, meant to be listened to in its entirety like a work, and therefore, not easily digestible at first glance. However, it is an album that grows on you with each listen, transitioning the listener from a state of disorientation (if not boredom) to a state of addiction as the notes of the 8 tracks become more familiar.

We are faced with songs that present intriguing and refined developments, with a sound that is only seemingly minimalist but can become dense and layered, providing airy openings thanks to the expert work of the London Contemporary Orchestra (the album was recorded at the Abbey Studios, dear to the Beatles, and it’s no coincidence that echoes of “A Day in the Life” resonate in more than one passage).

Throughout the 45 minutes of its duration, there is a sense of intensity and evocation. Greenwood’s guitar remains sharp, delivering angular riffs to the songs, while Tom Skinner’s – a founding member of Sons of Kemet – drumming blends seamlessly with the sound and, in its jazzy impact, serves as a rhythmic link with Yorke’s vocal tone, which appears even more alien, eccentric, and mature in singing his demons (the sense of technological oppression that emerges in the title track or the references to the pandemic scenario in “Friend of a friend”), interpreting yet another successful evolution of himself.

In a folk-psych trend interspersed with prog escapades, orchestral arrangements, and glimpses of ambient, “Wall of Eyes” reaches its climax with “Bending Hectic,” the true highlight of the album. It’s a captivating ballad that seems to have come from the soundtrack of a 1950s film, with lyrics narrating a car speeding on the road in the Italian Alps, which, in a crescendo of strings and violins, eventually goes off the road.

“The ground is coming for me now
Wе’ve gone over the edge
If you’ve got something to say
Say it now”

Despite the protagonist’s attempts to regain control of the car, the accident is inevitable to the point that you almost feel it physically when, in the end, the guitars explode into a haunting coda.

“Despite these slings
Despite these arrows
I’ll force myself to turn


What remains at the end of the album is a strange sensation, typical of the inability to fully assimilate and decipher what has just been listened to. A bittersweet aftertaste of distant echoes, the result of a sonic reassembly of elements from the past that, nevertheless, can outline new horizons.

And perhaps, the feeling that The Smile is the most important band of the 2020s.

Wall Of Eyes: Rating 8/10

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Written by: Jack Div

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