The song “2+2=5” (The Lukewarm) is the opening song to Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief. Released in 2003, the album captured all of the post-9/11 political paranoia, on both sides of the Atlantic, deftly playing its Orwellian themes against intricate melodies and harmonies. This was not merely a great Radiohead album, it was profound and I played it on heavy rotation for months after its release. There’s a depth to this music I still feel I haven’t plumhed. My iPhone randomly brought this gem up yesterday in the commute; I may have to re-listen to the album this weekend.
This song begins like a Lenten dirge, its vocals flowing slowly from dissonance to harmony. The desperation of the singer is clear, the desire of not seeing reality and the truth as it really is, races forward musically as a frantic shout of rejection over racing rhythms and the building musical storm of guitars and bass. Its a reality that is unsure and only in held together by fragile lies that are no longer holding back the truth.
As Thom Yorke ends the song, “Oh go tell the king, that the sky is falling in, but its not, maybe it’s not”. A phrase even relevant now 11 years later.