After listening to Pablo Honey, or the Bends, one might think that Radiohead, although talented, was just another lad- rock band from England. Then along came Ok Computer. While not as ambiguous as the latter albums, it proved that there were more facets to Radiohead than one might think. While people thought that Ok Computer was a weird effort, Kid A was released, and Ok Computer then appeared to be merely a bridge into Radiohead's new style. Kid A is a very experimental album, whether you appreciate it or not, and in the following review I will describe the album in its entirety. Radiohead fans searching for other peoples' opinions, or newcomers alike, bear with me for a few minutes. I will try to make this an objective review.
1) Everything In Its Right Place.
So much for saving best for last. In this jumpstart to the album, Radiohead's new groove is revealed in the first second of the song. Everything In Its Right Place is in a fast-paced, 5/4 tempo. For the inexperienced musical ear, the rhythm may sound intimidating, but it is not that complicated. Thom Yorke sings apparently nonsensical lyrics: "Yesterday I woke up soaking on the moon" repeated again and again. The song does not follow a normal format. It has two verses and choruses, but no bridge. After the second verse, it goes into an intense and beautiful climax. Then, it inevitably dies down, and in all honesty it makes one want to stop the album and go and lie down and reflect. A magical song, and one of my favorites of the album. It is a fair representation of the album itself. 5/5
2) Kid A
Weird. Weird, and weird. Those words aptly describe the title track, Kid A. Most of the lyrics are indistinguishable, so meaning is difficult to draw from the song. However, it has several very atmospheric and lovely moments, that make up for the annoying voice. Although Kid A is a good song, it is not a fair representation of the overall sound of the album. Approach with caution. 4/5
3) The National Anthem
This song serves up an extremely cool bass line early in the song that continues throughout the song. Conventional instruments are heard for the first time in the album , so it is quite a treat for old-school fans. The music is wild, and unpredictable. All of sudden, it breaks into a big-band sounding instrumentation. It gets tedious after a while, but the song soon comes to an end. Easier to approach than most of the other songs, and you only have to listen to it once or twice to get the gist of it. 3.5/5
4) How To Disappear Completely
This song is another one of my favorites, and it made want to listen to album many more times. While being introspective and eclectic, the song writing itself is impeccable. Yorke casts deep feelings of emotions and brings a listener close to tears, if they really listen. The music more that compliments the singing, and an overall melancholy feeling is created. A wonderful taste of the album, and great just to listen to by itself. I strongly recommend you listen to this song especially carefully.
I think of this as a transition song. It is very relaxing, and I sometimes go to sleep with it on. Try not to think about what the song lacks in vocals, guitars, and drums. Just listen to the atmospheric sounds and let them engulf you. This song is a little bit too long for its content, similar to Aphex Twin's Gwety Mermans or Tool's (-) Ions. Whatever you do, don't skip the song. It's still an important part to the development of the album. 3.5/5
This song sounds like it could be on Ok Computer. It has a simple time signature that soothes the listener. Johnny provides solid accompaniment for Thom, and the song shines with a nice, pretty melody. The lyrics are uplifting and inspiring, despite the song's simple sound. "If you try the best you can, the best you can is good enough" sings Yorke in the chorus. Optimistic is a more traditional Radiohead song, at it proves that they haven't lost what they used to have. The song doesn't fully break through to your inner-self, but it is a great layer to the album. An easy listen. 4/5
7) In Limbo
This song is another little gem of mine. Although the lyrics seem repetitive, if you listen closely, you feel like everything makes sense for some reason. Thom Yorke’s voice is soft and soothing, and Johnny plays a beautiful hypnotizing main theme. This song is not difficult to approach like some others; all you have to listen to it and be captured by its power. One of my favorites, and a very good chillout song. 4.5/5
Idioteque stands out among the other songs on Kid A. It has a techno beat, which continues throughout out the song. Idioteque sounds rather like something Aphex Twin might right. Thom’s singing is plaintive and once again soothing, but after listening to it a few times, his voice seems to be more haunting and melancholy. It shares similar lyrics with “How To Disappear Completely” but lacks all the powerful emotion. Thom Yorke sings especially high in a few parts of this song, which is impressive because he doesn’t have a high speaking voice at all. In fact, if you listen to the beginning of 2 + 2 = 5, on Hail To The Thief, you can hear him saying “Nice way to start, Johnny,” in response to his guitar feedback. This song goes through a strange shrieking sound for a while, which is both mysterious and a little irritating. Then, it goes back to the main theme and flows directly into the beginning of Morning Bell. 4/5
9) Morning Bell
Morning Bell is a fast-paced song in 5/5. Morning Bell is a softer song that also sounds like something from Richard D James’s Album by Aphex Twin. That is until the singing kicks in. I never thought I would find myself saying this, but in this song, Yorke’s voice is flat out annoying. It’s not the fact he sings high, it’s the overall strangled sound to his voice in Morning Bell. I enjoy the music and the wild guitar interludes, but Yorke’s voice spoils it for me sometimes. However, about a minute and a half from the end, you can hear Yorke chanting, with a delay effect. This is a demonstration of what an amazing and inspiring voice he has, and this is only based on his vocalizing here. The drums kick in with a cool solo, and the overall sound of the song changes. It has more darkness to it, and I always listen to the whole song just to hear the last minute and a half. 3/5
10) Motion Picture Soundtrack
Motion Picture Soundtrack sounds nothing like one. It starts out with electric organ sounds, and Thom sings slowly and softly. It appears that the song is going to digress, but it stays the same for a while. Eventually, some eclectic harp-music joins the procession, and puts you in a dreamy state. Despite the track length, the song itself is only three minutes long. There’s a couple minutes of silence and then a would-be hidden song. It’s more like a 20 second surge, and then the album comes to a finish. The song itself is decent, but it’s more of a part of the album than a song. It seals the album, if you will. 3.5/5
Kid A has its ups and down. Some of the better songs are Everything In Its Right Place, How To Disappear Completely and In Limbo. The weaker ones include Morning Bell and Idioteque. In general, Kid A is a very pleasant listen, and you should not listen to it with a critical ear.