Radiohead
Amnesiac


3.5
great

Review

by USER (4 Reviews)
February 17th, 2005 | 55 replies | 7,192 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


2 of 4 thought this review was well written

Radiohead - Amnesiac
Released: June 4, 2001
Label: Capitol Records

Thom Yorke - Vocals/Guitars
Jonny Greenwood - Guitars
Ed O'Brien - Guitars
Colin Greenwood - Bass
Phil Selway - Drums

After Radiohead's off-the-deep-end 2000 release Kid A, there were hints and allegations of another record coming soon, and strong suggestions of -oh my gosh- guitars. As it turns out, the material for their quick 2001 followup, Amnesiac, was written at the same time and place as the material of Kid A, complete with a new version of Kid A's "Morning Bell". People were quick to dub this album "B-sides" or the inevitable "Kid B", but Radiohead insists that this album should be considered a stand-alone record, seperate from Kid A.

There are indeed guitars on this album, and they are a welcome return. However, it's Radiohead's unending inventiveness that makes the album worthwile. There are various high points on the album, including "Pyramid Song", "You and Whose Army?", and "Life in a Glasshouse", but Radiohead sacrifices a lot on the album for the sake of ambience, especially on weaker cuts like "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors", which I could see fitting in with the rave scene. The album is alright, even pretty good, but definitely not one of their best.

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
Okay... if you want us to believe that this album is a seperate experience from Kid A... why not convince us right away? Maybe with, I don't know, a guitar? Instead, this track opens with clangy percussion and sparse, pulsing drums. This is an alright track, and rather sets the tone for a majority of the album... mostly the lesser songs, though. "Packt Like Sardines", for all it's wierd spelling errors, isn't a bad track - especially given Thom's now-famous lyrics, "I'm a reasonable man/Get off my case, get off my case", which are acute in their irony and help keep the song better than average.
3.5/5

Pyramid Song
This is one of my absolute favorite songs - in fact, it's why I bought the album. This track begins with a piano line, accented by a quiet, scribbling, scrawling string section. Thom enters on a falsetto line, then begins a tale of swimming with "dark eyed angels" and describing what he saw, ending with "There was nothing to fear/Nothing to hide" -one of my favorite bits in the song, it has a wonderfully comforting feel. Then the band enters, with sweeping strings (arr. Jonny Greenwood) and jazzy 3/4 drums. The moments when the band enters, the song is actually made stronger, despite that it ought to fall apart. The song ends with a strong string section and haunting string-like sound effects. An awesome, well built track.
4.5/5

Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors
Right as "Pyramid Song" ends, we are shoved right into "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" - a very dissimilar track, despite making use of the sound effects that closed out the previous track. This was kind of a let down, especially being shoved between two magnificent tracks. It's mostly driven by Phil Selway and a driving beat, with strange accents throughout, notably a very altered voice of Thom Yorke - his voice is used as an instrument in this arrangement.
2.5/5

You and Whose Army?
Wait - is that - no way - a guitar? Why, so it is! After about 13 minutes of waiting, we have not only a guitar, but a guitar-driven track! This is another one of the high points of the album, and with good reason. The quiet, jazz-ish guitar is complemented by a quiet Thom Yorke, singing with a sound new to his audience - subtle and smooth. The second part of this track goes from quiet guitar to sudden power, with pounding piano and much louder vocal work. However, the effects on his voice make his voice a little over-powering during this section, but the end, accented by vocal harmonies, is pleasant enough.
4.25/5

I Might Be Wrong
Another guitar-driven track. It's not one of the high points of the album, but not one of the low points, either.

Hey, they named the live album after it - it can't be all bad. It's a solid track, and a pretty good listen, but it's just not one of my personal favorites. It does carry the middle of the album well, though.
3.7/5

Knives Out
The guitar line here brings back memories of "Paranoid Android", but doesn't do much more. It's an alright song, but it doesn't accomplish any more than the song(s) it derives itself from. Lines like
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knives Out
Don't look down
Shove it in your mouth
sung in an oddly annoying Thom Yorke whine and stuffed over repetitive guitar lines tend too irk the listener... or at least me. Overall, "Knives Out" comes off alright, and has grown a decent fan base for itself.
3/5

Morning Bell/Amnesiac
An interesting rehashing of "Morning Bell" from Kid A. What other band takes a song from a previous album, redoes it, makes it a sort of title track, and then claims that the new album is not B-sides of the old album? This track is one of the points that really destroys Thom's argument that Amnesiac isn't Kid B.

After listening to this track, just try and tell me Thom Yorke isn't suffering from depression. Repetition of lines like "Where'd you park the car?", "Cut the kids in half", "Release me" and the like, accented by a pair of two-chord progressions, one dissonant, one relaxing, really play with the duality of this unusual song.
3.75/5

Dollars & Cents
This is a rather affecting song with a none-too-uncommon Radiohead theme. There are those wonderful times when Radiohead feels anti-government or anti-capitalism, or just wants to make a political type statement ("Electioneering", anyone?). "Dollars & Cents" is a great example of this, and one of the better songs on Amnesiac.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dollars & Cents
Oh yeah everytime democracy pays
So we're on the streets now
It's all over the streets
Quote:
We are the dollar and cents and the pound and pence and the mark and the yen
We're gonna crack your little soul
Dark and meaningful lyrics are supported by a very dark feel with wild guitar bends and Phil Selway's constant ride cymbal. Thom's vocals really help with the melancholy feel. Give this one a good listen - it's a subtly awesome song that just feels right.
4/5

Hunting Bears
Well, this one was odd. This track is comprised almost solely of monophonic guitar playing with no apparent direction, eventually with bass underneath. This track seems rather out of place, and serves minimal purpose. It would be much more interesting if it were an effective lead-in song, but it has no relevance to "Like Spinning Plates", which makes it an almost pointless track.
1.75/5

Like Spinning Plates
Wow... that was unusual. But I liked it. I don't even really know how to explain why I liked it, I just did. It's a heavily layered song, with a 'spinning plate'-type sound effect, an odd sound effect that sound likes temporally altered orchestration (apparently, this is the song "I Will" played in reverse), the band, and a high-pitched Thom Yorke. It would make a great closer for the album, and actually works well as one when combined with "Life in a Glasshouse".
4/5

Life in a Glasshouse
Fits well after "Like Spinning Plates", and could be combined with it to make a great closer.

This is a brilliant and strong closer for the somewhat thin and spotty album. This is a jazzy, drunken, paranoid anthem, complete with sloppy brass/woodwind section. This is a wonderfully constructed piece that basically builds a story about an insane little world, a sort of "glasshouse".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Life in a Glasshouse
Think of all the starving millions
Don't talk politics and don't throw stones
Your royal highness says
Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
Well of course I'd like to sit and chew the fat
Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
But someone's listening in
Thom Yorke's singing and piano playing are perfect on this song, as is the instrumental work. The brass and woodwinds sound tired and drunk, playing just sloppy enough for the listener to know it's intentional. Everything about the song works wonderfully, and this is one of the best songs on the album... it actually makes you think the album is better than it is when you listen straight through - it enhances the album experience! Cool!
4.75/5

I actually bought this album because of "Pyramid Song". I heard this track in a Music Appreciation class, and I was mesmerized. Already being a fan of Radiohead (OK Computer, The Bends), I decieded I'd try Amnesiac. The rest of the album didn't quite stand up to my expectations - Amnesiac is not one of Radiohead's best. It has lots of highs and lows, and bounces back and forth between them with reckless abandon, with much less flow than most of Radiohead's other works. It does feel like a Kid B of sorts, but it is a respectable effort, and tracks like "You and Whose Army?" "Life in a Glasshouse" and "Pyramid Song" make it worth it, and proved in 2001 that Radiohead was still a force to be reckoned with, and not to be ignored. And, just as with every Radiohead CD, you have to give it a few listens through.

Overall Score: 3.5/5


user ratings (3224)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Little Man being Erased
February 18th 2005



87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. Very well written. Though I think Amnesiac is Radiohead's second best album.

clearvision
February 20th 2005



36 Comments


I think you and whose army is just tom and an organ? or am i mistaken?

Med57
Moderator
March 15th 2005



1001 Comments


Great review man...I fully agree as well. This album isn't great, but it has moments to rank up there with the band's best...You And Whose Army, Pyramid Song and Life In A Glasshouse in particular.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
March 15th 2005



2125 Comments


Like Spinning Plates is the best track on this album. Then Pyramid Song and Life In a Glasshouse.

Little Man being Erased
March 16th 2005



87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think this album deserves much higher than 3.5/5

I'd give it at least 4, maybe even 4.5/5.


I Might Be Wrong is one of my favourite songs on the album, it should have been rated higher.

Little Man being Erased
March 17th 2005



87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I understand where you are coming from and you explain your reasons for disliking certain aspects of the album very well. But I just can't help but love this album.

Joy-Nir-Pix-Head
March 18th 2005



6 Comments


good review.... love this album Like Spinning Plates is probably a personal favourite... pretty certain the 'temporary altered' bit is the chords from I Will played in reverse, think i read that somewhere. Life in a glasshouse is the coolest song ever!

llama123
April 10th 2005



2 Comments


Even though I love this album, excellent review.

biografiend
April 17th 2005



55 Comments


awesome review. :thumb:

Amnesiac is my favorite Radiohead CD.
/controversy

Jawaharal
May 24th 2005



1832 Comments


for some reason I loved hunting bears. I think its one of the best on the album. I think knives out was a little reptitive but i would still give it a 4.5.


Morvit
May 25th 2005



71 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im like a total Radiohead fantic, and i still don't like this album, i rather listen to their Iron Lung EP or Airbag EP rather than this. This is suppose to be recorded same time as Kid A, but for some reasons I like Kid A WAY MORE than this album. And i agree that "Like Spinning Plate"s a great song, really sound like plates spinning :D. But for some reason, I'm not that into "Pyramid Song", donno why. And the rest of the album's just except knives out, i mite be wrong and life in a glasshouse. Too experimental in my point of view

Masakik
July 1st 2005



25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

very cool album. Not my favourite by radiohead but its up there.

Kingadamx
July 21st 2005



120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is just so amazing sometimes when I listen to it. It has such a creative energy surrounding it. It is just an exquisite piece of work by one of the best bands around today. What they were doing on Kid A was elaborated on and perfected on this album IMO. Also, it even hinted at the kind of work which would be played on Hail to the Thief.This Message Edited On 07.21.05

LongDistanceRabbit
September 22nd 2005



11 Comments


i really think knives is the low point of the album. am i the only one who thinks that?? you're right about the spinning plates/ i will thing, there's a rather good tab for plates on mxtabs, that i'd like to recommend.
life in a glasshouse is one of my favourite songs ever. it's so completely backwards. instead of going for the whole future/space thing that seems to be so popular with alt-rock, they did a trad jazz song with Humphrey Lyttleton. incredible.
whenever i hear Packt like Sardines i think of the scary bears hammering on a submarine deep underwater (look at the "earthquake season" picture in the album artwork.

Hugh Jass
September 24th 2005



92 Comments


DiSapPointing I think you mean.

pulseczar
September 24th 2005



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i like this more than kid a :upset:

Zebra
Moderator
September 24th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my favorite Radiohead, and I'm not joking.

Hugh Jass
September 24th 2005



92 Comments


Why should you be?

Zebra
Moderator
September 24th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Because almost everyone that I know who likes Radiohead doesn't care for this album as much as OK Computer, The Bends, Kid A, and Hail to the Thief.

Hugh Jass
September 24th 2005



92 Comments


Yeah well screw them. I bet they all secretly wank to Jessica Simpson.



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