In Radiohead's world, songs often gestate at a glacial pace.

Take "Burn the Witch." According to producer Nigel Godrich, they first started workshopping this electro-orchestral jackhammer circa "the tail end of [2000's] Kid A," and the band's subsequent teases — in Reddit AMAs and album art, via interviews and online diary posts, even onstage — gave the track, if it did indeed exist, the aura of a relic. For those who'd been following along, it was surreal, almost intimidating, to finally hear the finished product on 2016's A Moon Shaped Pool. The stakes felt, um, rather high!

But the Smile — Radiohead's chief creative forces, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, with drummer Tom Skinner — don't seem tormented by the quest of capturing perfection. Their debut LP, May's A Light for Attracting Attention, is often structurally complex, full of tricky time signatures and ever-shifting grooves; but the vibe is looser and less fussy than a typical Radiohead record — even, perhaps ironically, more spontaneous. Further evidence: During their European tour behind that album, the Smile has already debuted six new songs in concert.

Add in a live staple that (beyond all conventional logic) didn't make Attention, a couple of intriguing soundchecks and two studio snippets used in the Peaky Blinders series finale, and it seems like they already have enough material for a follow-up.

As we wait for a further announcement — and, hopefully, more new songs during their North American run — let's rummage through everything in the Smile pile.

"Just Eyes and Mouth" 

The biggest musical injustice of 2022 is the Smile scrapping "Just Eyes and Mouth" from their still-phenomenal debut. As you can gather scrolling through the numerous Twitter and Reddit complaints, fans had grown pretty attached to the song — one of eight unveiled during the band's first performance in June 2021, during the Glastonbury Live at Worthy Farm stream. It's one of their most bewitching tunes, Yorke wrapping a meandering melody around his own Fender Rhodes, Skinner's funky drumming and Greenwood's mind-boggling guitar hammer-ons. Why it missed the album cut is anyone's guess, but it's obvious how much they like it — onstage it's become their encore anchor, prompting Yorke to cut loose with adorably dorky dance moves.

First performance: May 22, 2021
Most recent performance: July 20, 2022
Total performances (so far): 36

 

"People on Balconies" 

Debuted during a mid-May show in Croatia, "People on Balconies" is the lightest and bounciest of the unreleased crop — Yorke plays a soulful bass line that saunters around the neck, and Greenwood keeps things fairly simple on 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 those people in apartments, they didn’t let them out … at all," Yorke said onstage at one show, introducing the song. "People stuck in apartments, they’d walk onto their balconies and talk to each other and start singing. And that really stuck with me. So I decided to write a song nothing about that at all."

First performance: May 16, 2022
Most recent performance: July 11, 2022
Total performances (so far): 15

 

"Bodies Laughing" 

Back in 2006, Radiohead briefly rehearsed a song called "Bodies Laughing," even adding it to their crammed blackboard of in-progress 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 a sort of Brazilian bossa-nova kind of thing…" To the surprise of hardcore fans, the Smile debuted a track with that same title during a May show in Berlin — but Yorke's stage intro ("Yesterday, we wrote another new song") throws the timeline into question. 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 named "Reckoner," only to release a dreamy, totally unrelated "Reckoner" on 2007's In Rainbows. Adding to the hilarity, in 2009, Yorke reworked the original arrangement into a 2009 electronic solo track, and then played versions of it live with two different bands: first Atoms for Peace, and now with the Smile. Wherever it came from, "Bodies Laughing" is a killer, riding a muted Greenwood bass pattern and stretching out into jammy territory with Yorke's sustained guitar solo (played on what appears to be O'Brien's signature model).

First performance: May 20, 2022
Most recent performance: July 20, 2022
Total performances (so far): 28

 

"Colours 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 turn complex. This one's mostly about the instrumental dynamics, how Yorke's thumping finger-style bass plays off Greenwood's pinprick electric guitars and Skinner's relentlessly driving drums.

First performance: July 7, 2022
Most recent performance: July 20, 2022
Total performances (so far): 18

 

"Bending Hectic" 

When debuted in July at the Montreux Jazz Festival, "Bending Hectic" was so fresh that Yorke had just put on the finishing touches that night: "Yeah, I can see the words," he said onstage. "That's good 'cause I just wrote them about a half-hour ago." The lyrics, though, are secondary to the vibe: a headphone-friendly slow-build from Greenwood's massive, reverbed string bends to a shoegaze-y climax filled with violent guitar soloing and Yorke's supple falsetto.

First performance: July 12, 2022
Most recent performance: July 20, 2022
Total performances (so far): 6

 

"Under Our Pillows"

"Under Our Pillows" opens with a jerky, delayed guitar figure similar to Attention's "Thin Thing," and the first third plays out almost like a sequel to that knotty track. But the piece opens up in its middle section, the vibe shifting into slow-motion atmospherics with Yorke's twinkly keyboards. Then the biggest surprise arrives at the end, with the frontman pounding out a heavy stoner-rock riff. There’s a palpable looseness here — the arrangement feels open-ended and exploratory as if they’re working through the sequence in real-time.

First performance: July 14, 2022
Most recent performance: July 15, 2022
Total performances (so far): 2

 

"It" (or "It/Flangers")

Yorke playfully introduced "It" (or, per the set list, "It/Flangers") during a show in Taormina, Italy, giggling and speaking in that country's native tongue. (Does anyone want to translate?) The following song could be the Smile's heaviest: Greenwood's woozy, delayed riff; Yorke's downright filthy fuzz bass; and Skinner swaggering behind the kit as he navigates the rhythmic hiccups. Around halfway through, they shift into grinding Krautrock, a platform for some experimental guitar theatrics. Fingers crossed they keep this one around — it's a monster.

First performance: July 20, 2022
Most recent performance: July 20, 2022
Total performances (so far): 1

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