5 March 2013

Radiohead - Kid A

If there was an album which has ever polarized an audience, there would be a photo of this record next to it.  Back in 2000 when this came out, Radiohead were the indie kingpins in the UK. Their last album (OK Computer) was being hailed as the natural successor to The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). FYI - if they meant that it was not worth the praise that it was getting, they got it spot on, a good record but not the saviour it is painted out to be. Then they released this, and depending on who you talked to they either pissed on their collective chips and went up their own sphincters to oblivion or they transcended into new God like creatures beyond reproach.

Now I will state from the outset I have a real love hate relationship with Radiohead at the best of times. Sometimes I love them so much it is all I want to listen to. Other times I wish they were busking in Oxford as I would never have to hear them again. So I have picked a time when I am not 100% in a Radiohead mood to look at this so I can at least try to be semi-objectionable about it.  I would also like to say that this album is not my favourite of their work, not disliked but not the most likely to be put on when I am looking for something to listen to.

It is a rather weird one to pin down, it does have so many aspects going on it is neither an all out rock album or all out electronica which lots of people try to make it out to be. It is a strong release in many ways, but its strength is also it's weakness in the same breath. Trying to change so fast meant that some of the songs were caught inbetween the styles and suffered due to it.  Also, whilst it cannot be thought of as anything other than a brave album, not many people at the top of their collective game decide to change some of their text book and not give a damm if anyone follows. It is also undoubtedly seeing the band trying to use as much as possible, but to say this brought the underground to the main stream is a mistake.  It might have brought it to the forefront, but other artists were doing this sort of thing before hand and still getting big praise.  Also, it sounds as if they have tried to put everything in at once and sometimes it works (such as "National Anthem") and sometimes it does not work (such as "Morning Bell").

So is this album as good as they say?  Well, yes and no. It is alright, but I cannot see why it is held as an example of the underground going over ground as if they were the back room wombles of indie at the time.  They were not, they were very firmly established at the release of this record and just released something similar to other artists, so for that it is not saviour that people say (for me at least). It is not even the emperor's new clothes.  It is just a record which is alright and not as challenging as some make it out to be.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

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