Review Summary: Through each creeping rise and fall of OK Computer, you come to realize just how much music can mean to you.
First impressions have always been a difficult thing for me when it comes to music. Sometimes I'm immediately hooked, sometimes I'm skeptical, and sometimes I completely hate it. I'll admit, this is the first time I've listened to Radiohead, and they made a great first impression. "OK Computer" is Radiohead's third studio album, and their most successful and critically acclaimed. So obviously when I sat down to listen to the record, I had high hopes; however hard I tried to keep my head above the hype. How could I not be excited to hear one of the so called best albums of 1997? Disappointment was nowhere to be found in it.
Upon first listening of the second track, "Paranoid Android", I noticed how unique this band's sound was. It's incredible how every little sound adds to the overall feel of the song, giving it depth and atmosphere. The lyrics really give you something to think about (Which I love), compelling you to scrutinize them; pick out what it might really mean. The mysterious lyrical trend is consistent throughout the record, which I believe is one of the standout successes of it.
"Ambition makes you look pretty ugly/Kicking, squealing, Gucci little piggy"
Perhaps one of the eeriest songs I've heard in a long time, "Fitter Happier", may catch you off-guard with a robot voice (The same voice that can be heard in the background in Paranoid Android) spewing the thoughts of a man stuck in a formulaic life. Though it is simply a robotic voice speaking, it feels like you can hear the desperate cries of the man. It's truly something to admire when words, spoken through what sounds like the default voice of a Mac, can make you feel uneasy. From the end of that track we're transitioned into a harder rocking song compared to the previous. "Electioneering" presents a perfect satire of modern politicians, presenting the sometimes savage nature of elections.
"I will stop, I will stop at nothing/Say the right things when electioneering/I trust I can rely on your vote"
"No Surprises" comes in as another one of the eerie, yet beautiful songs that this record is mostly composed of. Thom Yorke's voice in this song adds just the right tinge of emotion to make it really stick. It's a tale about a man desperate to live a quiet life, through means of suicide. This could very well be considered the best song on the album. The way Yorke can make a song about suicide sound almost comforting is remarkable.
"I'll take the quiet life/A handshake of carbon monoxide"
Among the unnerving songs there are also a few sprinkles of uplifting attitudes. The first track of the record, "Airbag", tells the story of a man reinvigorated with life after surviving a car crash. This song can really pump you up with Yorke wailing lines like, "In an interstellar burst/I am back to save the universe". I mean, how can you not feel invincible when you're singing that in the shower? The eleventh track, "Lucky", is a slower song, but still has lyrics set to inspire. A man feels saved by his love, like she pulled him from his deathbed. Though the tempo is slow and the vocals sounding almost desperate; the way this song portrays the man's optimism is beautiful.
"I don't have time for him/It's gonna be a glorious day/I feel my luck could change"
Through 12 tracks of music, only one falling under the 3 minute mark, you'll find that the brilliant writing of one man can really engage you as a listener. Yorke's lyrical and vocal style was a new experience for me, and at first I wasn't sure if I'd like it. After sitting and listening -- Really listening -- I found this album to be exceptional in the way it conveys the story of each song in a cryptic and elegant manner. The lyrics are obviously the high point of this record, if I didn't stress it enough. For my first Radiohead experience, I don't think they could have made a better first impression and I'm excited to hear more of their work. Definitely check this one out.