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'Thief' In The Night

RadioheadThe video for Radiohead's new single "There There" debuted last month on the Jumbotron in New York's Times Square, and the band's own TV show will air on U.S. public access stations in August. Such unusual promotions are the order of the day for Radiohead, whose increasingly experimental music belies a mainstream popularity that has allowed its past two albums -- 2000's "Kid A" and 2001's "Amnesiac" -- to debut at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on The Billboard 200.

And while the Nigel Godrich-produced "Hail to the Thief," due this week from Capitol, is a more immediate, guitar-powered album than its predecessors, it remains a challenging listen full of odd sounds, keyboards operated by antiquated computer programming languages, and frontman Thom Yorke's always idiosyncratic singing style.

The record gets off to an electrifying start with "2+2=5," from which the title phrase is drawn, and the claustrophobic, piano-driven "Sit Down. Stand Up." Other highlights include the loose-limbed acoustic strumming of "Go To Sleep," the impassioned closer "A Wolf at the Door," and "Scatterbrain," one of the most beautiful, straightforward songs the band has released in years.

"We've got quite an old fashioned approach, I'm starting to think," guitarist Jonny Greenwood muses. "It's a bit like the '50s idea where you get the producer in and he would decide what arrangements would be done for that song, and the song would exist on paper. We really enjoy that sort of music making -- writing the right chorus or verse isn't even halfway for us. Sometimes you have to take the guitar off the shelf and use that, but other times you take a laptop."