Kid A



by Zettel USER (37 Reviews)
November 5th, 2009 | 69 replies

Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A turning point in Radiohead's career, "Kid A" was more shocking than a solid piece of music.

"Kid A" was released nine years ago. I'm sure most people have already made up his mind about it. Along with "Ok, Computer", it's considered one of Radiohead's masterpieces. A lot of people didn't like it, but it seems it was mainly because it wasn't their type of music. That's understandable. You're not supposed to like a change in sound nor certain sonic experimentations. "Kid A" was such a drastically change in sound that it was almost incomprehensible to many. Radiohead was a rock band, and fans expected guitar-based songs. In return, they were given one of the most shocking follow-ups to a highly successful album in recent music history.

Usually, you have to justify a low rating for an album. In this case, however, it should be the other way around: how is it possible to rate this one more than a 3, let alone a five? "Ok, Computer" was uneven. It was not a masterpiece in my eyes, but you could understand why someone could like it so much to think so. It could be breathtaking at times, had solid songs and sounded remarkably fresh and like nothing else. This barely is the case with "Kid A".

Radiohead deserves all credit for being bold enough to challenge their audience and music mainstream in general. But this was an experiment. How can an experiment get a five star rating? Apparently, some members of Radiohead, most notably Thom Yorke, were heavily into electronic music, by the likes of Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher, and decided they could do their own take on it. It was a great idea, because it was a novel approach for a rock band. Electronic and rock music are no strangers to each other, they, but we were talking about the new wave of electronic music, the avant-garde, less accessible front. So yes, it promised to be quite a feat. But it didn't turn out that way.

Album opens with the very good "Everything in its Right Place", which actually grabs your attention with its weird, repetitive and somewhat claustrophobic sound. It sounds insane, as Yorke sings nonsense as if he was losing his mind. The electronica influences are clear and the bands pulls it off quite well. But seriously, it all goes downhill from here.

"Kid A" comes in, and I don't know what to make of it. It's a very minimalistic song in where anything barely happens. It's basically a repetitive subtle beat, with Yorke incomprehensible vocals on top of it. It's not clear what the band tries to accomplish here. It's experimental, it's interesting, but no, it's not rewarding, and surely is not great music. Then we have "The National Anthem", quite an interesting piece, better than the previous song, but, again, just another experiment. It has an infectious drumbeat, with a great bass line, with the song slowly building up, until some horns and other wind instruments come in, dominating the mix. It gets loud and cacophonous...and that's it.

Next, for the first time on the album, we're treated with a more familiar sound. "How to Disappear Completely", is more straightforward than the previous ones, yet it still manages to be in tone with the rest of the album. It's the first song where you feel Yorke is actually trying to convey a feeling and comes up to be actually a very good song. "Treefingers" comes in, and the album gets even weirder and meandering. This is sort of an ambient song, with Greenwood apparently making it out of his guitar, but he can't prevent the soundscape from sounding stale and flat, breaking the album's flow.

Then we have probably the best song on the album, "Optimistic", which also is the most straightforward and almost doesn't belong in the album. Multilayered guitars, great melody and vocals, and a great outro, make for the most solid and enjoyable song on the album. "In limbo" is really strange and dark; nevertheless it holds your attention. It sounds very chaotic and calm at the same time, sounding as if all members were playing different songs at once. Interesting and clever, but you tend to forget it in the long run. The song goes nowhere, hence the name, I guess.

"Idioteque" is their best attempt at a more accessible sound, with a cool beat and strange effects permeating the song, making it almost danceable. The beat has slightly variations throughout the song, keeping it from being linear. Unfortunately, it still sounds half-baked and slightly long, so it doesn't stands repeated listens. “Morning Bell” is hands down the most interesting song on the album, musically speaking, with its syncopated drumming and ill atmosphere, with sounds gradually being added, building to a climax, descending and starting again. Guitars come in and out, adding to the song's dynamics. It sounds like a companion piece to the album’s opener, as their share this maniacal, obscure vibe. While not stellar, it sounds really good.

Finally, we have "Motion Picture Soundtrack". This one feels completely like filler. I don't get this one. It's overly dramatic, forced, and boring. It features some kind of orchestration that goes nowhere. This sounds so weak and completely uninspired that it doesn't convey any emotion, since it feels like a soundtrack for a movie you never get to see. It only lasts two and a half minutes, which only add to its nothingness. There's some kind of hidden track, some minutes after it ends, that's not even worth mentioning.

It's clear this is not for everyone. You either get into it or not, there’s hardly a middle ground. You might say, rightfully, that Radiohead reinvented their sound and had the balls to try something completely different. Perhaps its greatest accomplishment was exposing greater audiences to music that remained underground, and was only known in small circles. Radiohead took this project seriously, as “Kid A” dives deep in its electronic influences. It’s not your typical incursion in electronic music just for refresh your sound and make it more interesting. It’s a complete reinvention. But again, how can it be a great album? There are some interesting ideas here and there that save most songs to be complete garbage. Radiohead has talent, but this is only a glimpse of what will come. They don’t master this new sound. Radiohead get better actually, and this is a first try. "Kid A" has one great song, a couple of very good ones, and the rest is interesting at best. The album feels cold and emotionless and the sonic experimentations are not solid enough. Again, it was just an experiment. But somehow, people went mad about it.

Other than its cultural and mainstream impact back in 2000, this is definitely not a great album. For an experiment, it can be rather interesting. For an album, it's just average.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

I do see your point, this is a good review and I'm telling you right now it doesn't deserve the negs that are sure to come.

And once thta 'shock' was over, there were only about 3-4 songs I really cared about. "Morning Bell"..."Optimistic"..."Idioteque"...

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, you proved your points well. Album is splendid though. Space those paragraphs, okay?

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

aw man, youre about to get raped for your rating. i pos'd

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Album is like being on drugs when you're not on drugs, it's that good. There is no way this is average. Review is not bad though.

November 5th 2009


I disagree, but this is well written. pos'd.

November 5th 2009


This is like Radiohead's best album.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

i actually agree with this review in some ways

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Can see where you're coming from

November 5th 2009


ummmmmmmmm. i suppose. barely.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

to be fair you could just have written up to here:

"Kid A" was released nine years ago. I'm sure most people have already made up his mind about it. Along with "Ok, Computer", it's considered one of Radiohead's masterpieces. A lot of people didn't like it, but it seems it was mainly because it wasn't their type of music.

and then said:

I'm one of them.
and ended the review.

November 5th 2009


You describe the way the album sounds well but I don't think you back up your points or make truly educated opinions, especially with claims like "surely is not great music." Surely reads like you downloaded this yesterday.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

whats with everyone hating on the best albums hah

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5


November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

So I only just realised how good this was the other day. Upped it from a 3.5 and might up it again if I find myself listening to it more.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Review is pretty bad tbh. It doesn't even sound like you tried, and review seems really indifferent and like you only listened to the album once or something. At least Fireabove puts some effort into his negative reviews of classic albums.

Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2009


Really great album.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks you all for your comments.

Strikey, planewreck and Yotimi:

I didn't download the album yesterday. I actually have a physical copy and have it almost from the day it came out, and I've listened to it plenty of times. I tried to be objetive, maybe that's why I sound kinda indifferent.

Maybe I don't have educated opinions, but I'm confident I made my point across. I hope to eventually get better.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

I hope to eventually get better.

me too, cuz youre obviously sick

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

"How can an experiment get a five star rating?" Like this, watch: I give Kid A a 5/5 because it's awesome. See?

Pretty good review, but it read too much like a track-by-track for my liking. I clearly disagree with the rating (this is my second favourite album ever) but I understand why it might not sit well with some.

November 5th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Ummmm, no? Not really sure what else to say, I love this album.

Your review is fine, but kinda pointless. It seems like you're trying to 'open the eyes' of people that love the album as though they only like it because it was "different" or a "change" from their earlier stuff. But I don't really listen to any pre Kid A Radiohead material, and am confident in my opinion.

Also, have you even considered that Kid A doesn't sound accessible because its coldness is the entire theme of the record.

p.s the title track is my favorite.

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