Radiohead
Kid A


5.0
classic

Review

by Paul blart USER (13 Reviews)
December 3rd, 2009 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is not the band that recorded "Creep" almost a decade ago. Guitars are child's play, drums are brutish instruments, conventional song structure is tired. Enter a world of icy emotions, baffling instrumentation, and stark minimalism that is "Kid A".

It's apparent by the first track, "Everything in Its Right Place", that Radiohead are rotten liars. Things are definitely not in their right place. Where are my guitars; my icy smooth production and dense soundscapes? Where is Thom Yorke, hitting those notes like a young Bono did back in the 80's? I want my old "I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo" band back; and if this is a joke, I'm not laughing.

So ironic the title track is, not just in name but in composition. Lonely synth keys steadily build, Thom Yorke's voice glitches in and out, gasping for air, like stray radio currents picked up on some obscure AM radio station. Within a few seconds, Radiohead has created the definitive sound of this album; pure emotional isolation. The words themselves are simply a few lines of dada nonsense. "Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon" Thom repeats several times. "There are two colors in my head". A question begs to be asked; what the hell happened to this man between this album and OK Computer?

Well, mounds of critical attention and a worldwide tour (alongside superstars REM) resulted in genius, asshole, train-wreck Thom Yorke to experience a mental breakdown. "I'm not here, this isn't happening"; a philosophy he came to live by for several months and the basis behind the song "How to Disappear Completely" say so much about his life during this time. Just to make matters worse, the moment the man picks up a guitar he struggles to climb over a wall of writers block. Frustrated, and confused, Radiohead had two options in my opinion: recreate "OK Computer" again and hope for the best, or, completely ditch all that they once knew. Luckily for us, Radiohead chose the latter.

Guitars are tossed out, drum duties given up to a computer, bass lines transformed into plodding electronic pulses lurching from the heart of some cold machine. With a new lyrical direction as well (it's rumored that Thom Yorke simply wrote down phrases, tossed them in a hat, and picked them randomly for some songs), the band embarked on creating this cold and distant mix of Jazz, IDM, Electronica, Avant Classical, Progressive, Ambient music. While ambient and IDM influences nod their heads towards the greatest practitioners in those fields (Brian Eno and Richard D. James respectively), this album still surprisingly remains completely original, challenging, and just plain strange. While many people believed this so called "original, challenging, strange" album to be little more than a cruel joke, there were a separate division that hailed it as a classic. I happen to be one of them.

In my opinion, Kid A manages to accomplish something that ambient and electronic music simply can’t; the pure, womb-like emotional soundscape. While those styles of music can easily accomplish the feeling of cold simplicity, it's hard to inject emotion into that kind of music at the same time, and this is where Kid A succeeds with flying colors. The very lonesome synth notes expressed in the opening track paint the feeling of pure dread. You get the picture that Thom Yorke is some sort of paranoid schizophrenic living in a box, feeling trapped, and completely ***ing hopeless. And it's very possible that Thom Yorke did live like that for a period of time, based on the reports given from the time between this album and "OK Computer". And it's so goddamn amazing that such a stripped down feeling can be expressed in a single song.

It's not even until the fourth track, that we hear Thom Yorke as he should be. No longer masked by distorted vocals as he was in the title track (a song which very well matches the definition of "womb like"), and the tinny megaphone vocals in the third song (featuring a killer bass line, and a conclusion which can't be described in any other way than a marching band in a car accident), Thom Yorke pours his heart out in the aforementioned "How to Disappear Completely". What more can be said about this song that hasn't already been said? It's one of the most emotionally stark songs I've ever heard; the strings, the electronics, the subtle acoustic strums and understated drums. They all swell and grow and rise with Thom's voice, and then die out in a horrible whisper near the end of the song.

The moral of the album; sometimes you have to destroy yourself to really find out who you are. Radiohead came a long way from being those "I'm a creeeeeeeeep!" guys. It's hard to believe that a band that caused critics to crown them the greatest of all artists of the 90s, will be remembered not for what they did during that period of time, but for the complete schism they caused amongst their fans and critics. However, this is the problems with most bands today, mainstream or not. They lack the courage and creativity to risk all of their money and critical acclaim in order to release something that nobody else would like or understand besides the band members (or so Radiohead must have thought). This is intelligent music, and I don't care if I sound like a snob for saying that. Not only do Radiohead maintain a grasp on melody (if you don't hear it, you need to open your ears), but they incorporate so idiosyncratic traits that's impossible to tell that this band once had a chart topping single.

My favorite aspect of this album though is the sounds of unknown origins that fade in and out of the songs. I've never heard so many sounds that baffle me so much. I can't begin to guess what instrument is making these noises. What is that little trumpet-like thing that plays in the background of "How to Disappear Completely" for a few moments? What are those whooshing noises on "In Limbo", that so perfectly accompany the line "I'm lost sea, don't bother me"? It almost completely destroys any attempts at analyzing this album in any cohesive sense. It's hard to really describe this album unless you experience it yourself.

And don't listen to critics. Don't listen to me. I find that those who go into this album expecting a work of genius often find it to be ***ty, and those who hear nothing but bad things simply understand it. Don't listen to those critics that call this little more than a band dicking around with electronics, this couldn't be further from the truth. While electronics play heavily in several songs ("Everything in it's Right Place", "Kid A", "Treefingers", "Idioteque"), the band open up to styles that seem like polar opposites. "The National Anthem" is freeform jazz accompanied by groovy bass and drums. "How to Disappear Completely" can't be described in any other way than what an actual "modern" classical orchestra sounds like; "Optimistic" is primal "Lord of the Flies" jungle dance, which transforms into a jazzy instrumental workout. "In Limbo" is just...confusing, to say the least. Arpeggios played on guitars, swooshing electronics, mayday cries off in the distance; the perfect recreation of being lost at sea.

It's hard to actually believe real people made this record, and I don't say that to place any sort of outstanding praise on the band members, I say that because it tosses out all traditional means and approach to recording an album. This is the work of some sort of emotional shut-in, abducted by aliens, and returned to us cold and distant. The icy landscapes depicted on the album cover hold within its image all you need to know; the odd beauty that radiates from this album, even in its darkest of moments, is hypnotizing. By the time you reach the final track, a mournful organ fueled exemplum accompanied by harps and chimes taken from some classic Disney movie, you're confused as to whether you should take it as a streak of shinning beauty, or a morbid farewell; "Red wine and sleeping pills. Help me get back, to your arms." speaks Thom Yorke as the final moments pass you by. "I think you're crazy" he mutters.

Look at it as an attempt at commercial suicide, or whatever you wish. The point is, "Kid A" is the most daring album to ever reach the coveted #1 spot in the POP charts. As many reviews said, Radiohead are the saviors of rock music. And honestly, I must agree to some degree. Many musicians have believed that rock music has been strained as far as it would go; John Lyndon and John Lennon thought so. But it wasn't until Radiohead completely killed rock music, that it was saved. Sometimes you have to destroy yourself to find out who you really are. If the same applies to humans, the same can apply to the art, the music we create.



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user ratings (5132)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
December 3rd 2009


20300 Comments


other than "moth bands" this review is pretty amazing, makes me want to love this record.

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

Prophet178
December 3rd 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You got a bunch of spelling errors, Brian Eno, most, moral, etc.

I'm not really a fan of super ranty reviews, but whatever works for you.

shade
December 3rd 2009


1198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best album ever

AndrewKaster
December 3rd 2009


66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

SHIT

Yeah, I forgot to run this through Microsoft Word. Fuck, I hate how I ramble. Anyways, thanks for pointing that out, TO THE EDITING OPTIONS!

Oh, and yeah, I realized when I was done just how long this was. But damn me to hell if I was gonna throw it all away. Heh.

AndrewKaster
December 3rd 2009


66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

On second glance, there are many problems with moth bands today. It doesn't make any sense that their live concerts make heavy use of large, pulsating lights. I mean c'mon people, let's value our artist! They're all we have! (besides guns)

CelestialDust
December 3rd 2009


3155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh boy 9 classic reviews for this






Prophet178
December 3rd 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And one retarded 2.5.

CelestialDust
December 3rd 2009


3155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i thought i'd read a 3 review for this a long time ago, am i hallucinating

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 3rd 2009


4459 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You need to refrain from saying this like, "in my opinion" and the likes. We know it's your opinion, it's your review. This things are superflous, get rid of them and this review flows much better. Not a necessary review at all as you don't state anything different, but you're new and it's a decently written review so keep it up.

AndrewKaster
December 3rd 2009


66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the criticism thebhoy. I know, I always have a tendency to add "in my opinion" in my reviews. Guh, I don't know why I never stop myself. Yes, I found it hard to find something new to say about this album (It's like trying to review a Beatles album and make it at all interesting unless you completely trash it, in which case, you're inciting a flame ware).

Mordecai.
December 4th 2009


8278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i'm getting sick of all your reviews. Put a bit more time and effort into one rather than spewing out 5 or so sub par reviews.

Meatplow
December 4th 2009


5524 Comments


i'm not here

this isn't happening

Piglet
December 4th 2009


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The album is great, but I just can't get into it and i don't know why.

Meatplow
December 4th 2009


5524 Comments


idk some of it kinda sucks to me

other parts are completely enthralling

qwe3
December 4th 2009


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0


It's not even until the fourth track, that we hear Thom Yorke as he should be.


what should he be?

AndrewKaster
December 4th 2009


66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Without his voice masked behind effects, sung in a rather detached way, etc.

I suppose I should take a few weeks to write my newer reviews. Just think how great they would read!

Track 1: This song has loud guitars! Bass! Drums too!
Track 2: This song has cool lyrics!
Track 3: Cool stuff
Track 4: Amazing!
Track 5: Filler
Track 6: A magnum opus!
Track 7: Perfect ending!

5/5, I like music.

Hey, it's like some sort of cohesive outline for writing a fantastic review!

Android17
December 4th 2009


106 Comments


gtfo

DiceMan
December 4th 2009


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah as the others said, it is pretty obnoxious when you are putting out 2-4 reviews a day that aren't very good or in depth at all and pushing all of the reviews that are actually decent/good out of the bottom.

Android17
December 4th 2009


106 Comments


this

AndrewKaster
December 5th 2009


66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Like I was informed in my last review, I had no idea that's how the site works. I would certainly post less is I knew, but still, that would mean a world of more cookie cutter reviews.



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