Radiohead get round their songwriting poverty by developing initially startling soundscapes that simply dont belong on a rock record. U2 did a similar trick after they dried up following Achtung Baby and kept it up for almost a decade.
While this kind of thing keeps the critics happy, it erodes the fan base, so the next rabbit out of the hat is a back to basics approach. This album is basically U2 sans the smokes and mirrors.
Gone is the messianic energy of the War and Joshua Tree years, leaving behind a group of skillful, glitzy, jaded musicians with some unfortunate affectations. Bono still thinks he can cut it as Marvin Gaye on Grace. The main problem is that the melodies are pulling their punches trying not to step on the toes of other tunes the band was able to rock out on, a sure sign of treading water.
The two tracks carrying the album are the soaring, windswept Kite and the recent single Beautiful Day, which struggles to break away from a looped feel, but doesn't quite manage it.