Hail to the Thief introduces itself with the sounds of a guitar sputtering to life through an amplifier. The static-y buzz leads into "2+2=5," the band's loudest, most flat-out-rocking song since OK Computer. With Thief, Radiohead meld the electronic experimentation of Kid A and Amnesiac with their more traditional songwriting tendencies to end up with a batch of songs that define the group's New Normal. If they want to break out a climactic tune that culminates with a distortion-drenched Jonny Greenwood solo a la The Bends, they will (see: "There There"). And if they want to make a song centered around the sound of a subwoofer swallowing itself, they'll do that too (see: "The Gloaming"). After expanding the boundaries for modern rock bands with their previous two albums, Thief schizophrenically explores that newly created terrain.
Its madcap nature is also streaked with anger. Partly inspired by George W. Bush's rise to power and a startlingly paranoid and violent post-9/11 world, Thief has the band raising their voices to compete with the war-mongering din around them. "You have not been paying attention!" snarls Yorke early on, snapping the listener to attention. On the vampiric dirge "We Suck Young Blood," the singer plays the part of a greedy overlord who kills future generations to live. Here, the band's characteristic bleakness is shot through with indignation. They're mad as hell, they're not gonna take it anymore, and they'll use as many blips, bloops, acoustic guitars, squelchy synths, unbridled yelps, tribal drums, and zippy laser gun noises to get their points across as they want.