but that people aren't allowed to say so for fear of losing their indie points.
that's a shame that.
never heard of em mate
already had two cornettos.
Well, that certainly sounds like a Radiohead song title, almost to the point of parody. However, it probably a question that Radiohead were asking themselves when the "OK Computer" tour came to a close. When you’ve reinvented the wheel, where do you go next? The same question oasis asked themselves in 1996 after conquering the world in much the same way that Radiohead found themselves hailed as the new saviours of music in the aftermath of the exemplary OK Computer. Oasis went off and created "Be Here Now", a hugely disappointing album that in retrospect seems composed of good B-sides. It seems the loftier the heroes the bigger the fall. While the critical reaction for "Be Here Now" was one of high praise (soon revoked), the praise for "Kid A" so far is one of total and utter confusion. The circumstances have been carefully manipulated to ensure maximum secrecy here: no videos, no singles, no advance copies of the album (except on digital MP3 players sent out to select persons). The paranoia increases. That didn’t stop Mp3s’ of virtually the whole album appearing online weeks before its release, thanks to the sensibility of premiering new songs live months before the official release.
But nonetheless expectations were high, unrealistically so. No matter how good this album was going to be, it was always going to be a let down. Very few people were prepared for just how much of a let down it is though. Radiohead openly admit that they have totally changed their modus operandi in producing this album, and taken a lot of electronica influences such as Aphex twin and Autechre, and Jazz influences such as Miles Davis’ improvisational “Bitches Brew”. The resulting mix is a lot more akin to something that would be issued on Warp or Rephlex, rather than a big chart friendly multinational like EMI. Its rumoured that upon hearing this album, upon which the majority of EMI’s big hopes were pinned, Christmas bonuses were cancelled. Well, Its not easy to guess why.
From the opening “Everything in it’s right place” to the closing hidden track, the overall tone of “kid A” is sombre, muted, discreet. Perhaps the best comparison musically would be the U2 album “Passengers” album recorded with Brian Eno, an overall impressionistic, indulgent ambient album, with further hints of Brian Enos “Discreet Music”. The ghost of U2 and Brian Eno haunt this CD, and Rather like U2 taking Brian Eno on board for their “Unforgettable Fire” album (3rd album big breakthrough, fourth album impressionistic). Its as much a radical reinvention as “Achtung baby” was at the time, only rather than re-inventing everything for the better, its been reinvented for the worst.
For a start, forget everything you know and expect about Radiohead. The rules no longer apply. You are through the looking glass. The best way to think of this is as a collection of abstractions, rather than songs. Traditional songwriting no longer applies. The main aim here, it seems is Radiohead are attempting to make things fresh, exciting, unusual, to reinvent themselves. To challenge themselves and their own preconceptions of making music, and in doing so to challenge their audiences expectations, and in doing so, Radiohead seem to want to reinvent themselves as electronic pioneers. Radiohead want to create new sounds, sounds never heard before. Sounds that may be fresh, new, bold and exciting. In doing so, they have created something unlike any normal record. Vocals flit in and out, sampled, cut up, turned into incoherent babble, trumpet solos appear from nowhere, traditional song structures abandoned. Drum Loops come out of nowhere, ethereal and synthesised bass and keyboard parts emerge and then disappear, moving in and out of focus, sometimes near, sometimes far.
This sounds may appear new to Radiohead, but anyone seriously interested in electronica will discern a different tale whatsoever, with hints of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Muziq, Pete Namlook, two lone Swordsmen and so forth being key reference points. It probably most closely resembles “Rabbit in the Headlights”, Thom Yorkes collaboration with James Lavelle, crossed with the synth bass sounds of Ok Computers “Climbing up the walls”, and echoes the “nothing” soundtrack Orbital composed also. In times, the mood it evokes – cold, distanced, muted, detached, - is more alike “Fitter Happier” than any other Radiohead track. These sounds may seem new, fresh, exciting to the band, but ultimately they are not. They are nothing that hasn’t been done before, by people with considerably more innovation rather than merely aping and emulating their peers. In letting the sounds take precedence over songwriting, and allowing songs to evolve rather than be structured logically and comprehensibly, Radiohead have created an album which sounds like a low key release on Warp, which by any other band under any other name would probably sell about 10,000 copies worldwide at most. It may seem fresh, exciting, bold, and deliberately uncommercial. It is also cold, hostile, unwelcoming, and deliberately alienating, as if it is an example of how to make their career disappear completely. It’s like listening to Lou Reeds “Metal Machine Music”, such is the effect on the listener, feeling distanced and unwanted intrusive and alienated from the whole emotional context of the music.
Sure, there are moments of inspiration and brilliance: occasionally melodies and subtleties shine through. In time it may be remembered as a masterpiece, in time it may be remembered as the biggest folly they ever made. It’s a case of lets throwaway everything we've ever achieved, lets be something we're not, lets pretend we're radical and different and exciting and new, because we've lost the plot. If OK computer was their wall or dark side, then this is the second CD of Ummagummna, pretentious, irrelevant, indulgent.. Artistic control = genius or chaos, depending on whether the artist can exercise self-restraint, and none is in evidence here. Ultimately, its reactionary to the point of self-annihilation.
This will without doubt be remembered as their worst album, their Spaghetti Incident, their very own "My Beauty". One thing it is certainly seems is art for arts sake, devoid of purpose, experimentation for experimentation’s sake, art without purpose, pretentious and alienating. It’s a trip alright, but an ugly one, not one you want to make often. Be warned.
One good song on it.
(tbh, just having quickly skipped through the whole record on Youtube, it's better than Pablo Honey. don't know how anyone could seriously claim it stands up to any of the other albums, though, even King of Limbs, the second half of which obviously holds its own amongst their very best work).
aren't there. embarassingly terrible reviews.
1. Kid A / OK Computer / The Bends
2. Amnesiac / In Rainbows
3. Pablo Honey / Hail to the Thief / The King of Limbs
Radiohead have levels like Mario, minus the fun parts.
Champions: In Rainbows
Champions League places: The Bends, OK Computer
UEFA Cup places: King of Limbs
Mid-table mediocrity: Kid A
Just safe: Hail to the Thief, Amnesiac
Nailed on for the drop: Pablo Honey
Gets a trip to Wembley but not as champ. In the Radioleague Kid A, OK & Bendy are the prem top three. With Kid A getting a shot at champs alongside shit like Boy In Da Corner and Unture but never quite making it. Bendy would do well if this thread was made in the 90s, but then it'd have to be Leeds and win the last ever lauge 1 in 92. Amnisiac and In Rainbows would be FA cup winners. Pablo wouldn't be top scorer but a safe bench player alongeside Thief and Limbs.
And I feel like nobody should have given it the time of day.
but people who claim it's better than ok computer are helmets.
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