Radiohead
Kid A


5.0
classic

Review

by avonbarksdale221 USER (3 Reviews)
June 24th, 2014 | 208 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I will see you in the next life.

Music has this rare gift of emotional resonance that is hard to put into words. Each definitive chapter of my life has an album that personifies who I was at that point in time, chronologically condensing the essence of all the people I have been into an auditory time capsule of romanticised nostalgia. Likewise, as music fans, we each of us have that record we turn to when we are at our lowest; it’s a shoulder to cry on, a best friend filled with reassurances and unconditional promises to always remain steadfast. I rarely listen to Kid A; in fact, today marks only the second time in 18 months I have sought comfort within the confines of its cold desolation that is somehow so contradictorily inviting. And I’m perfectly fine with that, for this is not a record for sunny days and joyous memories. Rather, here Radiohead have crafted an anxious meditation on depressive paranoia that is resigned to be heard only in solitary times of bleak emptiness. More than any other record and in direct contrast to its distant nature, Kid A seems to understand me. When the void that exists inside me is at its most gaping and I am at my most hollow, Kid A completes me, if only for its agonisingly brief 49 minute runtime. Kid A may be cold and detached, yet through some duality-infused balancing act, it’s also a light at the end of the tunnel.

So much of our experience of art is dependent on context. Often, our enjoyment of a piece of music can rely almost completely on our mindset; whether we are happy and content, wallowing in self-doubt and self-pity or so high we feel like we are about to melt into the couch is often as definitive as to what we derive from the experience as the songs themselves. In addition to the emotional state its atmosphere demands, the context of Kid A’s conception is almost as legendary as the music itself. Whilst the majority of the accolades will always be thrust upon the unwilling shoulders of Radiohead’s enigmatic frontman, this is truly a band that is perfectly in sync and more than the sum of its parts. Here, the five members meticulously arranged a disparate blend of shining synthesisers, lonely keyboards, isolating electronics and controversially few guitars into an icy backdrop for the fluttering falsetto that is Thom Yorke’s signature, and to his disdain, the iconic feature of the band. On Kid A, however, the band made a deliberate and conscious effort to shift the focus from Yorke’s vocals. More than anything, they are used simply as yet another instrument, often drowned in effects as he spouts lyrics picked from a hat that border on the nonsensical yet simultaneously act as a rare portrait into his manic mind. The ironically titled Everything In Its Right Place sees his voice chopped into pieces and relentlessly sampled, weaving their way throughout a track that effortlessly slides into a crescendo of warbling vocal cuts. Similarly, the so-cold-its-frozen title track drowns his voice completely with despair and desolation. Playful piano melodies and bouncing keyboards borrowed from Selected Ambient Works juxtapose vocoder-manipulated vocals so detached they border on the incoherent. Three minutes and seven seconds into the song, a heavenly, cathedral-sized synth carries on its wings the assurance that despite how dark things may seem now, beauty and love can somehow manage to exist even in the coldest corners of the earth.

How To Disappear Completely may be Radiohead’s single most soul-destroying song. It is permeated with acoustic guitar strums so bare they are almost empty and an icy atmosphere of downtrodden hopelessness that is ever-consuming and palpably inescapable. Thom’s voice soars and the strings swell, gradually descending into a dissonant sea of weeping violins, lamenting ondes martenot and Thom’s angelic sighs. We are gifted with one final glorious ascent down the Liffey in arguably the records finest moment when the cacophony fades, replaced with a rising bass, an ever-expansive string section and vocals that border on the divine. Elsewhere, Idioteque is a sporadically irrational rave that drips with fear and paranoia, as propulsive house beats propel forward a human race marching in time away from (or straight into?) apocalyptic scenes of bunkers and ice ages. All the while, a borderline insane front-man delivers a declaration with frenzied insistence of “women and children first.” Correspondingly, the manically catatonic The National Anthem beats you into dull submission with its incessantly repetitious bass groove –written by a 16 year old Thom - and stuttering drum beat. The chaos quickly collapses upon itself and we plunge headfirst into an anarchic, spastically out of tune brass section. Kid A is filled with these moments of dizzying-euphoria that act as an illumination of an otherwise entirely dark landscape; the crashing drums in Optimistic give way to a 30-second jazz groove so good any other band would’ve made an entire single out of it, and Morning Bell’s climactic explosion of sound is almost cleansing, before an all-too-brief moment of clarity is creepily reversed by a disconcerting promise to “cut the kids in half.” The record ends with a gorgeously a well-worn church organ and a beautifully harmonious ceremony of harps that bring a pledge that “I will see you in the next life.”

The atmosphere Kid A conjures is all-encompassing. I no longer listen to it; I experience it. It may be achingly sad, yet it possesses a disproportionate ability to confound the heartbreak and lonely nothingness that overwhelms the rest of my existence. Lately, I find I have only been able to experience two emotions. The first is a numb, hollow emptiness that resonates inside my sparse core and while sometimes it is better to feel nothing at all, I can’t shake the suspicion that there is something looming ever close to the surface of my being, threatening to engulf me and swallow me whole. Alternatively, I am overwhelmed by a proliferating sense of profound sadness that surrounds me, taking refuge within the broken confines of my soul. A shattered vessel, I am perched perilously close to the precipice that rises ominous above the cavernous depths of black emptiness. Kid A exposes this for the melodramatic, post-teenage angst bull*** that it is. It is catharsis, it is release, it’s the best ***ing friend I have in my life right now. More than anything, Kid A makes me feel alive. And you know what – sadness is ok. In its own way, it’s as agonizingly beautiful as contentment, and exists so as to balance out those blissfully perfect moments where nothing matters, the moments that make life worth living. I know another one of those moments is just around the corner for me, preparing to pop its head round the corner with sparkling eyes, purple hair and a smile that makes time stand still. Until then, at least I have Kid A.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
fallenbird
June 24th 2014


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Another day, another Kid A review

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Figured I'd make my own addition to the 794040629 Kid A reviews that exist on this site and on the internet in general. Be warned: its hyperbolic and melodramatic beyond belief, but I really needed to write this. Enjoy.

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@bird yeah pretty much.

fallenbird
June 24th 2014


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pos'd

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks bud. any thoughts? I have this nagging suspicion that I may have SLIGHTLY overdone it but I guess this is something I needed to write.

Trebor.
Emeritus
June 24th 2014


59863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Got high as fuck with my friend Ken last night and put on this album and he doesn't like it and he kept trying to explain

why he doesn't like it he said the title track creeps him out and is all eerie and I'm like "Ken, that's the fucking point, btw

it's still cherry"

fallenbird
June 24th 2014


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You're worried about a Kid A review being overdone? Have you seen all the Kid A reviews on here? They're all overdone!

fallenbird
June 24th 2014


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's not a proper Kid A review if it's not overdone.

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@bird I guess this album brings that out in people. I dunno, I guess I feel EXPOSED with some of the shit I wrote here.



@treb tell ken to get a fucking grip



@futures FEEDBACK PLS

jtswope
June 24th 2014


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best album ever. Review rules Avon.

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks JT really means a lot :]

SgtPepper
Emeritus
June 24th 2014


4510 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

sweet review, man.

silentstar
June 24th 2014


2528 Comments


does radiohead appreciate all the boners teenagers have for them ... ?

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks heaps SgtP.

SIMBOLIC
June 24th 2014


6733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

about 6 out of MM8 on the overdone scale

SIMBOLIC
June 24th 2014


6733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review :p

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah dude agreed, I'll look back on this in a month and most likely be nauseated at how soppy it all is, although I suppose it'll provide a good snapshot into my frame of mind at the moment. Cheers though.

Tunaboy45
June 24th 2014


18429 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So... Many... Reviews.

Liked it though, pos.



Judio!
June 24th 2014


8496 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hard pos bro. Don't give a shit how many reviews there are, I always love reading them. Was thinking about writing a review for this myself, but there are other albums on my agenda. Maybe some day.

avonbarksdale221
June 24th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks dudes. And agreed there is never enough that can be written about this record. There's obviously a reason it inspires such emotion.



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