Present Tense

Album: A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • Thom Yorke first played this bittersweet bossa nova (then known as "The Present Tense") as an acoustic number during a solo set at the UK Latitude Festival in 2009. Yorke has since performed it several times during his solo shows and with his other band, Atoms for Peace. However, fans had to wait until 2016 for the studio version.
  • Lyrically, Yorke is singing here about a relationship in trouble. The Radiohead frontman asks if "all this love will be in vain" as he grapples with the possibility of their rough patch leading to a breakup.
  • The minimal video was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights). The clip captures Yorke and his bandmate and frequent Anderson collaborator Jonny Greenwood seated on a dark stage performing the track on a Roland CR-78. The American filmmaker previously directed the band's "Daydreaming" visual.

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