Radiohead have a certain… unusual quality about their music, their influences are varied and the bands they have influenced are amazing bands. This album, in my opinion, is joint first out of all of my albums. If I were one of the run of the mill “OMG Ok CoMpUtEr iS tEh UbEr RoX!1!1!1!” Radiohead fans, 2 things would happen,
1. I would start rambling on about how OK Computer is the best album to be released with the best songs ever
2. I would get banned for posting like a total fruit loop.
So, how does “The Bends” match up to other, “better” albums" Well, considering I, personally, am not one of the aforementioned “OMG Ok CoMpUtEr iS tEh UbEr RoX!1!1!1!” Radiohead fans, in fact, I don’t consider myself a “fan” as such. but this album opened my eyes to so much, and OK computer hasn’t done that.
How am I going to justify what is, quite possibly, one of my more controversial musical arguments" Simple, but complex, if you sit down, pour yourself a nice cup of tea, I’ll begin the review proper
The music of this album fluctuates between many styles, whether it’s the acoustically driven, almost melancholic songs like Street Spirit (fade out) and Fake Plastic Trees, which utilise Thom Yorke and Johnny ’s guitar playing skills well, to the all out, bounce up and down, brimming with energy songs like Just, this album just works.
The instruments lock together so solidly to produce great songs as a unit. For example the combination of the brothers (Johnny on guitar, Colin on bass) works so well, one knows exactly how to compliment the others part in the song. Then there is the solid addition of Phil Selway on drums, who provides some solid rhythm keeping throughout the album, supplying some noticeable drumbeats on tracks like Just, where the need for a more noticeable drumbeat is more noticeable. Whereas tracks like Street Spirit (fade out) have a more minimalist drumbeat which is very barely noticeable, leaving the main focus on Thom’s vocals and the guitar.
One thing that is undoubtedly true is that Thom’s voice is one of the more unique voices in modern music, and while other vocalists have been attributed to using the vocal rang that Yorke uses to a greater effect, the emotion that Yorke pours into his vocals and lyrics make them, absolutely, unique. Unlike the previous album, Pablo Honey, Thom doesn’t indulge in the same amount of lyrical self loathing, instead, turning his hand to different topics, such as breaking up with a partner,(High and Dry) and pulls it off with a stunning poetic flair which leaves listeners wondering how this could be topped. Add to these lyrics Thom’s typical, eerie, ghostly voice, and you have a formula for success. This “winning formula” is illustrated in many of this album’s songs, for example, the haunting lyrics of Street Spirit (fade out) coupled with Thom’s voice provides a great atmosphere through the song. Then remember that this formula runs through the album, although in different forms, for example, The bends follows a different vocal structure in the choruses, (it’s more of a shout from Thom) but the general formula stays the same, which, I suppose could be seen as a curse or a blessing, depends how it’s looked at, but I enjoy this slight bit of order in the music
As if these two elements on their own weren’t enough, they link up perfectly, Colin, Ed, Phil, Johnny and Thom, all work perfectly as a unit, understanding each member’s strong point and making said strong point sound even better. Add to this an amazing level of consistency, songwriting standard, instrumental prowess and a link between the members that seems telepathic, and you have an album that won’t just go down as an album of the decade, but an album of the century, maybe more. It’s a classic by all means and will provide 99.99% of people with a joyful experience,
So, to end this, is this better than OK Computer" Yes, yes, yes and yes. I cannot stress it enough, this album is stronger an all dimensions yet has been unfairly shadowed by OK computer. This album was Radiohead at their rocking best, and is quite possibly, the best album that can be bought today
innerdark gives this album a rating of 5/5