When a group as diverse as Atoms for Peace releases their debut album, with it comes great expectations for something completely unexpected. What else can you predict from a band comprised of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke; Red Hot Chili Pepper’s legendary bassist Flea; Beck’s trusted drummer Joey Waronker; and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich? A lineup like that spells wet dream for fans of the members’ day jobs, and AFP has certainly had time to carve out something distinct since the supergroup formed in 2009 to play Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser.  Unfortunately, Amok sounds more like a Thom Yorke basement project than a collaborative effort.  And, where most of Yorke’s albums feel like a leap in his evolution, Amok doesn’t sound much more than a half step away from Radiohead’s King of Limbs.

Although it focuses more heavily on idiosyncratic drum patterns and peculiar textures than what’s featured on King, Amok produces the same kind of anxious energy and creepy atmosphere. “Default” brings to mind Yorke’s possessed dance style, as seen in the “Lotus Flower” video, with its intermittent rim shots cutting through murky synths. “Ingenue” produces more of a flow with Yorke’s whisper hiding behind dripping water and a sort of dial-tone hook – it sounds better than it reads, I promise. “Stuck Together Pieces” is a highlight for its distinct Afrobeat flavor (which, apparently, was the common element driving the supergroup’s collaboration) and Flea’s presence is finally felt through a crisp bass-line. If you’re a Thom Yorke fan, consider this one worthy of your time, but not the same sort of intense discussion or debate his previous albums deserve. (XL Recordings, Matthew Dyck

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