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Radiohead - OK Computer CD (album) cover

OK COMPUTER

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

4.02 | 710 ratings

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1800iareyay
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Following the tepid debut Pablo Honey, Radiohead hit big with The Bends, an introspective record full of smash singles. Radiohead finally lived up to their potential. Realizing that another record looking inward would be little more than a rehash of The Bends, the band decided to write what they wanted. The result was the biggest upheaval in pop music since U2's The Joshua Tree over a decade earlier.

OK Computer is where the band starts adding all sorts of effects to the sound. It uses electronic effects and complex arrangements, yet the album has a distinct minimalistic sound. The album opens with Airbag, a song that starts with metal riffs before changing into a dance number with space guitar and drum loops. The song is about the feeling one experiences when one avoids an accident or death. It's about that elate, religious experience, and the uplifting tones match the lyrics. Paranoid Android is Radiohead's best song to date, though to be fair it's really Radiohead's three best songs. A mini-epic, the song goes from ethereal singing to Beatles to metal in a mere six minutes. The song lives up to its title, with all sorts of paranoid lyrics and philosophical musings. It's the rare kind of song that takes multiple listens to get that is actually a joy to listen to from the get-go. Subterranean Homesick Alien pays tribute to Miles Davis' Bitches' Brew and Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues. For some reason the band never plays this anymore. This quirky little tune captures the feeling of being alone in an unfamiliar world.

Exit Music (For a Film) is one creepy somber song, as it builds from near silence to all sorts of eerie sounds. Apparently, the noise is the sound of kids playing being played backwards. Let Down doesn't let up on the depression. It's considered one of the more bleak songs on the album, which surely qualifies it for the Depression Hall of Fame. It's one of the most complex songs on the album, and it can't be played live because of the difficulty to reproduce it. Karma Police is right up there with Paranoid Android in the list of greatest Radiohead songs. An diatribe against both the judgmental and corporate bosses. Miles Davis and The Beatles can be heard throughout the song, especially in the piano part. fitter happier processes the lyrics through the speech function of Yorke's Mac. The sound is essentially pieced together instead of playing like a traditional song. This is the link to Kid A.

Electioneering brings the tempo up and delivers a nice rocker with a political bent. Sadly, the song has gone overlooked in comparison to the other music on this album, but it has some of the best lyrics on the album and it's a welcome break from ethereal depression. If you thought some of the music on the album was unsettling, skip on past Climbing Up the Walls. This song is disturbing on so many levels. Inspired by his tenure working in a mental hospital in the face of Thatcher's Care in the Community program, it captures all sorts of madness. No Surprises is a bit of a throwaway pop tune, though I'll take anything after the last song. Lucky interestingly acts as a bridge between No Surprises and the rest of the album. It's starts poppy before becoming darker, though it's still a happy song in comparison to the rest of the album. The album closes with The Tourist, a song inspired by the unflinching ability of tourists to miss everything they travel to see. They simply visit landmarks to check them off the list, and never marvel at the innovation, the labor, and the cost of even the simplest man-made landmark.

Of the few detractors of this album, most complain that the album lacks soul. This album is what emo bands wish they could make. It captures a sense of depression that all those glammed up wrist-cutters try their best to fake. This album is the music equivalent to The Matrix, a piece of art made in the 20th century that really counts as the first art of the 21st century. Whereas The Matrix managed to take the work of martial arts films and John Woo heroic bloodshed film and innovate them with special effects and an original story, Radiohead took cues from The Beatles, Miles Davis, DJ Shadow, and Pink Floyd to make the first album of the new millennium three years before the new millennium. The album is a watershed for pop music and it cemented Radiohead in the minds of the world. They followed this with Kid A, when they would expand upon the sonic meddling. Kid A was yet another triumph, but OK Computer represents the peak of the band's songwriting career. No record collection is complete without it.

Grade: A

1800iareyay | 5/5 |

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