Album Review

Philip Selway, 'Familial'

August 30, 2010

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Best known for his imaginative helming of the Radiohead drum department, Philip Selway has followed a different set of coordinates for his solo outing than his bandmate Thom Yorke — whose “Eraser’’ effort benefited from its distinctly diet-Radiohead flavor. Here, it’s just Selway, an acoustic guitar, some fleeting string and piano arrangements, and a modest swatchbook of electronic textures. Unfortunately, he approaches his material with the iffy conviction of . . . well, a drummer playing guitar. Selway’s songs are by turns sweet (“A Simple Life’’) and sad (“Broken Promises’’), but largely unconvincing — like rough drafts that have stalled out. Throughout, his voice struggles to preside over the songs — it’s wispy and translucent, lacking much grit, color, or depth. At first the fuzzy tones chiming through the arches of “Patron Saint’’ lend it an intriguing spookiness that any “Kid A’’ fan could appreciate; but Selway never takes charge of his imagination, and the song (like others here) unfolds lazily into a litany of cliches. You get the sense that “Familial,’’ with all of its good intentions, might have made a better gift to a girlfriend than a serious petition to come out from behind the kit. (Out tomorrow)


ESSENTIAL “Patron Saint’’