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Radiohead - OK Computer CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.05 | 989 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Paranoid.

That's what listening to this album makes you. In the right mindset this album can take you on an emotional thrill-ride of monstrous proportions. The dark and dismal lyrics and music put forth by the band here blend together to make sonic waves that can turn your brain inside out. While many may argue that the band's next album, Kid A, was their more creative zenith, there is no doubt that this album took the band to new heights (more on Kid A later). Still more in the vein of rock than the electronic music that the band would go on to produce after this album, this is where it all went right for Radiohead.

Opening with the distorted guitars and drums of Airbag the album gets its pace set. Creeping in come the bass riffs as the song goes giving it a truly bizarre feel, this is the first song to give off that extreme emotion on the album. Low and dark the song pushes forwards until we come to the next track. It is then that the album is given life beyond life. ''Please could you stop the noise? I'm trying to get some rest...'' says Thom YORKE as Paranoid Android starts. Creeping background voices below Yorke's haunting (and well held) vocals give off that paranoid feel as the song courses on. As if this pace wasn't good enough the song actually explodes into motion about two minutes in. Enter a very memorable guitar riff blended with Yorke's vocals turned evil (''You don't remember!? You don't remember! Why don't you remember my name!?''). Screaming guitars take the song into the solo and back out again into a more subdued section of the song. Again with the emotional thrill ride until the song eventually comes to an end. Superb.

While the rest of the album unfortunately won't have any powerhouses like the second track, but the rest of the songs are very good by themselves. Subterranean Homesick Alien, Let Down and Exit Music (For A Film) all have a very similar feeling to one another, all very much in the same style and theme as the previous songs, these ones soothe the ears until the next big standout. Coupled with Fitter Happier, Karma Police is another track that pulls the emotional thrill ride to new heights. A subdued and peaceful acoustic guitar and piano contrast the dark rhythm and lyrics that soon come to take over the song. 'This is what you get...' says Yorke as the song comes to one of it's quiet points. Excellent. Fitter Happier is more of an outro to the song, although it's likely meant to stand on it's own. The gist of it is a robotic voice describing what will make you, ''fitter... happier... more productive''.

Coming into the end, the songs still manage to keep their themes while maintaining a unique sound to discern them from the rest. Electioneering picks up the pace a bit while Climbing Up The Walls pulls the audience back into the dark world of Radiohead. No Surprises is a surprisingly gorgeous song that could fit well on almost any Sigur Ros album with its lo-key guitar and chimes. The two closing tracks, Lucky and The Tourist do again what the rest of the album does... turn the audience reflective while still keeping up appearances with superb musicianship.

This really is the essential Radiohead album. Any album that can sting you with emotions even with no emotional memories attached to it is something very special. This album also contains one of the tracks that every prog collection should have - Paranoid Android. While Radiohead themselves hay deny the prog tag there's no doubting that here they've created a progressive masterpiece deserving no less than 5 stars. Recommended to all.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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