Saturday, March 6, 2010

428. Kid A. You must be Kid A-ing.


Album: Kid A

Artist: Radiohead.

Year: 2000.

Genre: Hmm… alternative alternative rock.

Tracks.


  1. Everything in Its Right Place
  2. Kid A
  3. The National Anthem
  4. How to Disappear Completely
  5. Treefingers
  6. Optimistic
  7. In Limbo
  8. Idioteque
  9. Morning Bell
  10. Motion Picture Soundtrack


After the huge commercial success of The Bends and OK Computer, British alternative rockers Radiohead decided to take a turn in a different direction. While their previous two efforts were guitar-based rock and roll that avoided clichés, their next effort not only avoids clichés it avoids classification of any kind.

It’s an album that generated over 2,000 reviews on amazon ranging the full gamut from raving, near incoherent "This is the pinacle of human achievement and anyone who thinks Beethoven is better is gay/retarded/deserving of death" five stars to angry, dribbly, frothy "This is unlistenable crap and anyone who says otherwise is gay/retarded/deserving of death" one stars.

Kid A is an album that would empty a dance floor, stop your dinner party cold dead, baffle anyone you were trying to seduce and terrify your neighbors. It's an album in the tradition of Dark Side of the Moon, it’s supposed to be listened to with your full attention rather than providing a soundtrack to an aspect of your life. It’s a movie without pictures. An experience rather than a background.

While I’m a big fan of Radiohead I didn’t get into them they way everyone else did. I remember hearing Creep, their first single, on the radio back when I actually listened to a radio. I hated Creep and in fact I still do. Consequently I ignored Radiohead for years until I heard a live bootleg and really enjoyed it. I hunted them out and therefore encountered all their albums up to Hail to the Thief in the one go. For me Kid A wasn’t an eagerly awaited release as much as it was one aspect of an entire career. In that respect I think I was probably lucky. A lot of people were eagerly anticipating this album expecting it to be the next step in a progression from The Bends to OK Computer, which was widely regarded as the best album of the 90's. Those thrusting this CD in their player and expecting more of the raging guitars that set Paranoid Android alight must have been devastated. The stratocasters stayed locked up in their cases and in their places was a collection of electronic sounds that baffled listeners all over the world. Even Thom Yorke's vocals were sometimes replaced with electronically treated sounds which made this album sound like Stephen Hawking's vocal debut accompanied by his own wheelchair. Reviews at the time were often of the "What the Hell is this?" variety and ranged from confusion to rage.

But seen as an album in it's own right and not a follow up to the best album of the nineties, most have reassessed this opinion and many claim it's the best album of the noughties. Lots of magazine lists that recently counted down the best albums of 2000 so far placed this release in the higher reaches of their countdown- the writers of Rolling Stone Magazine put it at number one, they weren't the only ones.

Forget anything you know about music and put this album on one evening. Don't do anything else just sit down, or lie down and listen to five guys from England have a bit of a rethink about how music works. It's a fantastic experience and highly recommended.

Influenced by: To be honest it doesn't matter because you can't hear their influences anyway. It's fresh stuff.

Influenced: Everyone releasing music for better or worse.

Highlight: The National Anthem- a sensational bass line.

Lowlight: Treefingers. Not because it's bad just because it's not really all that good.

Best Amazon Customer review quote: “If you like radiohead your stupid. Lol. You are probably some really dumb boso college student who trys to act rebbellious and just listens to radiohead for the hell of it.”

-Not worth responding to.

So is this the album of the decade or an album by dickheads? Let me know below.

3 comments:

  1. Hi David,
    I agree wholeheartedly with your view. When I first heard this I remember being disappointed with it in the wake of OK Computer's brilliance. Back in the days when you bought music, the listener was more inclined to persevere. I was glad I did and yes, it is a complete work, not a collection of songs. I think they did go off track after this one though and I didn't enjoy Amnesiac or Hail to the Thief as much.
    Cheers,
    Brad.

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  2. David,

    I can't have persevered enough... I still can't get into this album - but then maybe that's the point. I still think that Radiohead were at the peak of their powers with "The Bends" and everything after has been an attempt to rail against "the machine" that is the recording industry. I'm all for people doing it their way and pushing the envelope, but it does make it harder to listen to - and sometimes feel like a chore and not a joy... Just my opinion though... Maybe I'll give it a go the way you suggest, with no distractions and all the way through. I'll keep an open mind.

    Keep it up Dave, you're almost through the first 100...

    Cheers,

    Steve (Chaos Agent #2)

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  3. Thanks for the comments boys. Steve, both Brad and I want you to give this another listen. You will find the experience rewarding we promise.

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