"Kid A" by Radiohead (2000)
As frequent readers of the Independent already know, many of us here on the staff voted Radiohead's O.K. Computer as the best album of the 90's. They've come along way from the obvious grunge of Pablo Honey. With The Bends, the band seemed to find their footing. With O.K. Computer, they put themselves on a pedestal with some of the greatest bands in rock and roll.
With their new release Kid A, they've created all at once a major classic and a big disappointment. Classic because it's highly experimental bringing to mind the U2 project Passengers Pink Floyd and even Vangelis. The opening track "Everything in it's Right Place" seems as if it's going to set the tone of the record with it's catchy techno beat and Thom Yorkes computer distorted vocals. Alas, Kid A doesn't really have a solid theme. People will probably react to this album the same way they did to The Beatles White Album-- "what happened to the Beatles?" In retrospect the White Album is full of magic and I suspect that Kid A, will also be thought of as a daring Masterpiece down the road a ways.
It's as if the band was so put-off by their sudden and overwhelming success (as displayed in the boring and fan-unfriendly film Meeting People is Easy) that they decided not to worry about it and play whatever came into their heads. Radiohead has always been a band that disdains the trappings of rock and roll, and they march to their own skewed drummer, but this wonÕt stop Kid A from being a big disappointment to those who longed for more of the beautiful, well-thought-out tunes of O.K. Computer. In fact, Yorke's vocals only seem apparent on about half of Kid A, and the album is not what you'd call accessible. That's not to say that Kid A is without it's share of cohesive tunes. "How to Disappear Completely," "Optimistic," and "Motion Picture Soundtrack," are what people sort of come to expect from the band.
Kid A is a very gloomy, atmospheric piece and I admire it's boldness. With each listen, I get something new out of it and that's what a good record is supposed to be about. Rumor has it that the band will have another album out next year and it will be more pop oriented. Until then, put your guard down and let the the experimental Kid A take you away.
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