Pick of the Week: The Smile “Wall of Eyes”

Pick of the Week, The Smile, Wall of Eyes, Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood, Tom Skinner, WERS 88.9 FM
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

By Eden Unger, Staff Writer

What do you get when you put together two of the founding members of Radiohead with a drummer who grew up on ’90s grunge and metal and cut his teeth into the London jazz scene? You get Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner’s the Smile

“Wall of Eyes” is the group’s second single — coming after “Bending Hectic” — since their 2022 debut album A Light for Attracting Attention. It is also the title track from their upcoming album by the same name, dropping on January 26th, 2024.

 

MAKING YOU SMILE, OR RATHER, THE MAKING OF THE SMILE

The Smile, and “Wall of Eyes” by extension, isn’t exactly a departure from the work of Radiohead, as much as it is an extension, or perhaps an offshoot. 

Nigel Godrich, the longtime producer for Radiohead, said in an interview with the New Cue that the project came out of guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s restlessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Godrich, who also produced A Light for Attracting Attention did not produce Wall of Eyes. The latest record was produced by Sam Petts-Davies, who has worked with Yorke on some of his solo projects. 

Alexis Petridis, who wrote about the group’s debut at Glastonbury’s Live at Worthy Farm, described them as a “more skeletal and knottier version of Radiohead, an intriguingly wholehearted embrace of the prog rock influences their parent band tend to touch gently on.”

 

LOOKING “WALL OF EYES” IN THE EYES

Wall of Eyes is a mellow and atmospheric track, in that it feels like something that might soundtrack a flight through the clouds in a particularly pleasant dream. The song starts off with the strumming of an acoustic guitar, and muted hits on the floor tom, before Yorke’s voice comes in. In a soft falsetto, he sings: “Down a peg or two, you will go, behind a wall of eyes.” Beneath the singsongyness though, is a sense of guilt. “I try, but it don't go away (x3). Let us raise our glasses, to what we don't deserve.” It’s not entirely clear what the singer feels he doesn’t deserve, perhaps love or success, but it’s clearly slipping through his fingers as he slips in and out to deliver these lines.

The second half of the song is underscored by a constant counting from one to five. You could read it as someone trying to calm themselves down, á la “close your eyes and count to ten.” But it also has this borderline obsessive quality to it, like someone trying to tally all the things they have but don’t deserve, trying to hold on to them.

 

Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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