Listen to “You Will Never Work in Television Again” by The Smile

Ed O’Brien is usually Radiohead’s mainstream rock ambassador, the one who accepts their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame awards and still grants the guitar magazine interviews. Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke are supposed to be disinterested and bored with all that, drawn more to film scores and electronic abstractions. So it’s a surprise that the first song Greenwood and Yorke have released as the Smile, working with the jazz drummer Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet), is such a raw-boned rock number. On contact, it’s more immediately reminiscent of The Bends than any music the members have made in nearly 30 years.

The 53-year-old Yorke’s rock howl remains eerily undiminished, sounding as pained and soaring now as it did on over the wall of guitars on “Planet Telex” in 1995—hermetic anxiety must be an effective pickling agent. Greenwood’s guitar is a brutishly effective, three-chord palm-muted chug that a pre-teen could pick up in 30 seconds, and Skinner plays a hard backbeat. Maybe “You Will Never Work in Television Again” is a red herring, but could the Smile be Yorke and Greenwood’s autumnal garage rave-up side project?