Review Summary: everything in its wrong place.
The first time I laid my ears upon Kid A
, I was confused and disappointed. This was supposed to be something so groundbreaking that it still garnered praise today for its originality, yet no originality was to be found! From the delicate usage of electronics, to the ambient appeal, to the sci-fi sounds, to the general creepiness, to the Bjork-esque vocal style that Thom Yorke boringly copies, Kid A
is a Bjork album wannabe. Radiohead certainly tried to sell the album as something completely original, and I give them props for successfully brainwashing the entire world (seriously, that’s quite the feat). However, this would make the album a plagiarizer at best, and a scam at worst. The point of this being that the album is nothing unique, and while I don’t expect the general populace to ever understand that, I do expect them to realize that people may have varied opinions about this album (and for good reason). For an album considered to be so outright bizarre, there ought to be a whole spectrum of opinions about the album, shouldn’t there?
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the album is Thom Yorke’s voice. Let’s face it, ol’ Thom isn’t much of a singer, and with the forgettable/aimless melody parts in this album, Thom wanders through the electronic forest, sounding completely lost. Even when he’s given a decent melody to sing, ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, he ruins it with his horribly nasally, whiny, opposite-of-pitch-perfect vocal performance. This is quite a shame because the song was fairly interesting with its endless vocal effects building up, creating a tense atmosphere. Thom just can’t help himself. He can’t help it when he screws up potentially good songs like ‘Morning Bell’, where he does his atypical muttering, making the lyrics indecipherable. He even irritates in ‘Optimistic’, which should have been difficult to ruin considering the song’s general goodness, but he successfully sounds awful throughout the entire song. If only Thom had put any effort at all into his singing, he could have made the music slightly less difficult to listen to.
Now hold on a second, there are actually a few good tracks, and some good ideas that appear in this album. For instance, ‘How To Disappear Completely’ is a breathtaking song where Radiohead’s random experimentation finally works in their favour, creating an expansive atmosphere that is both strange and beautiful. Followed by the lovely ambient piece, ‘Treefingers’, these tracks give hope for the goodness of the rest of the album, which is when ‘Optimistic’ hits, another fairly decent song. The highlight of the album, however, is easily ‘Idioteque’, with its dark, depressive beats, and slightly abrasive sounds. Clearly, Radiohead’s experiments don't completely fail at all times.
is not entirely awful, Radiohead just seem to lack the ability to know when they’ve created something bad, or sub-par, or filler. Therefore we hear songs like ‘In Limbo’, ‘Morning Bell’, and ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’, which are aimless, boring, forgettable filler tracks. But Radiohead didn’t simply leave the album with only sub-par songs, oh no. They crapped out confusingly atrocious songs like ‘Kid A’ and ‘The National Anthem’ that are experiments gone wrong, ending up more irritating than interesting. ‘The National Anthem’ being the worst offender with its constant blaring of horn noises seemingly put there for shock value alone. The problem with such songs is that with their blatant weirdness, and cacophonous noise, Radiohead forgot to make them enjoyable. In fact, this is a constant problem in the album – it has interesting ideas, but it isn’t enjoyable. Perhaps it would take someone to enter a drug-induced stupor to fully understand the music’s impact, but if one has to do that to make the album something that it is not, than Kid A
must be fairly unenjoyable album. The album drones along sounding bored with life and wallowing in depression, with only brief glimmers of fragile beauty, the best parts in the album. These brilliant moments are few and far between, certainly not enough to crown Kid A
an entirely genius album. In the end, Kid A
has its moments, but is a forgettable, lackluster body of hit-or-miss material.