As many are already aware, English art rock band Radiohead is preparing to release a 20th anniversary edition of their legendary 1997 album Ok Computer. The reissue is titled OKNOTOK , available on June 23, and will contain three previously unreleased Radiohead songs that were developed during the OK Computer sessions. The first of these three tracks, “I Promise”, was released on Friday, and it’s immaculate. 

Buzzy yet cordial acoustic guitar strumming opens the track. A marching snare drum enters along with Thom Yorke’s tender, quavering voice. The arrangement of the song remains pretty barebones throughout the first half, but the song’s progression and melodies are so melancholically gorgeous that no further sonic embellishments are necessary.

Thom Yorke’s performance is deeply intimate and heart-felt. He pledges his entire being to his love interest, no matter what happens (“I won’t run away no more, I promise/Even when I get bored, I promise/Even when you lock me out, I promise”).

However, just as Thom and company prove that their songwriting abilities are beyond stellar, they begin to decorate the soundscape in a grandiose fashion. Watery synth pads fill the sonic spaces and epic string passages weave in and out of the mix during the song’s second half. Eventually, the orchestral arrangement swells and reaches a gorgeous crescendo as Thom’s vocals attain a new level of urgency.

Just as “I Promise” hits its peak, however, it starts to melt away, ending as quietly as it began. Overall, I thought the song was masterfully written and executed with superb grace and finesse. “I Promise” is definitely good enough to have been on Ok Computer, but I’m glad Radiohead treated me with it twenty years later.

About The Author

Related Posts