“The last thing the world needs is a shit album by me,” Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien has said. Indeed not. Good thing, then, that he didn’t make one. In fact, the simply and directly titled Earth — reportedly a fallback after copyright issues kiboshed his original idea Pale Blue Dot — might be one of the better solo albums to issue from the British art-rockers’ lineup. The nine-song disc was apparently inspired by a year living on a Brazilian farm, a trip to Carnival and a “eureka moment” involving the Primal Scream album Screamadelica. Fair enough; you can hear all those influences in this culture-jamming collection. Especially when O’Brien fuses hypnotic house grooves and strummy folk guitars with stylishly decorative synths, druggy sonics and tender, vaguely Thom Yorke-like vocals. As he alternates tightly wound numbers that wouldn’t be out of place on Radiohead albums with headnodding dance-rock grooveathons and intellectual soundscapes, O’Brien walks the line between accessible and experimental — and in the process, manages to tick off enough creative and commercial boxes to keep everyone happily relieved. Especially him, one suspects.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Ed O’Brien never planned to make a solo record. As a guitarist with Radiohead, who over almost three decades and nine albums have established themselves as one of the most innovative and influential musical forces of our time, he thought his artistic side had its outlet and was happy to spend any downtime from Radiohead with his family. Plus, he wondered, would it really be necessary? But suddenly a switch was flicked and the songs came pouring out of him. That creative surge resulted in an album of rediscovery and adventure by O’Brien under the moniker EOB that deftly veers from moments of delicate folk to euphoric house, its songs seamlessly pinned together by unswerving melodic hooks and candid lyricism. A spirit of collaboration runs through it, from the production team of Flood, Catherine Marks, Alan Moulder and Adam ‘Cecil’ Bartlett to the extraordinary musicians O’Brien assembled to help bring these tracks to life; Omar Hakim, Colin Greenwood, David Okumu, Laura Marling, Adrian Utley, Nathan East and Glenn Kotche.”