Review Summary: I'm not here...
Anxiety, claustrophobia, and stress are powerful forces of nature. Sometimes all three of them take over and consume you. Speaking directly from experience, it toys with your life and makes you feel as if the worst possible outcome will take place for no apparent reason. Everything is all in your head and yet that simple fact never makes the sad thoughts plaguing your mind go away. Who knew that out of nowhere Radiohead would create such an evocative masterpiece that epitomizes these very aspects of life? Ok Computer
, Radiohead's landmark record, was alternative rock and that was what everyone expected them to follow it up with. Instead of releasing the predictable, they without any warning sign released the cold, claustrophobic, and electronic Kid A
that without a doubt alienated listeners at first.
Why did it alienate listeners at first? Right from the start of "Everything In Its Right Place," it begs the question: Is this really Radiohead? The strange compressed nature of the song along with Thom Yorke's heavily processed vocals all point to something that was entirely different. Plus, most of the lyrics on Kid A
Thom pulled out of a hat. Strangely enough and as cliche as it sounds, the more you listen the more everything starts to fall into place. The lyrics "Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon" and "What was that you tried to say" really indicate the act of becoming distant and losing grip with your life. The alienation continues with "The National Anthem" which essentially embodies total chaos. It continuously builds upon the same bass riff until the chaotic brass instruments come in and they have no rhythm or reason in the way they play. It's brilliant and also builds upon the claustrophobic atmosphere with Thom stating "Everyone around here/Everyone is so near."
In fact, losing grip with reality is another overarching theme of Kid A
along with claustrophobia and anxiety. "How To Disappear Completely" best demonstrates this aspect with its atmospheric ambiance, muffled acoustic guitars, swelling strings and Thom's heartbreaking delivery of "I'm not here/This isn't happening." The way that the strings fade in and out towards the end of the song showcases slowly drifting into a bad daydream and immediately snapping back into reality perfectly. This song is a one-two punch when coupled with "Treefingers" which is an instrumental track of ambient droning guitars. You really lose yourself immediately in the song's distant atmosphere that it so expertly conveys. It's so melancholy and hopeless that over the course of its running time, you can't help but be mesmerized and pulled into its depressing vibe.
Another aspect of Kid A
that never ceases to amaze is the cold monster that is "Idioteque." It's quite strange how a couple of sampled songs and a simplistic synth beat would create what is now one of Radiohead's most beloved tracks. "Ice age coming/Ice age coming/This is really happening," Thom panics as we immediately get sucked into the songs claustrophobic nature. It gives you the chills and "Idioteque" serves as another prime example of how Thom's alleged random lyrics all fall into their proper place just right.
From top to bottom Kid A
is a disturbing experience filled with fear, anxiety, sorrow and regret. It showcases top notch musicianship, compelling lyrics, and a vision that without a doubt should be left open to interpretation. Since Radiohead had many fans when this was released many people bought it and was introduced to some underground forms of music such as electronica, ambient, and even some elements of post rock seen in the title track. Their decision to make everything completely unrecognizable to their fans was bold, but at the same time their best decision they ever made. Much like it's predecessor, Kid A
will live on and be remembered as one of the greatest modern albums ever made.