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Radiohead - OK Computer CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.05 | 989 ratings

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5 stars After a questionable debut, taking many of the worst aspects of alt rock at the time, and their solid, more refined followup album 'The Bends', Radiohead perfected their initial sound here in their third album, 'OK Computer'. Rather than many tracks that could come off as simple, 'OK Computer' adds layers upon layers of sound to each track, giving the entire album a spacey, futuristic atmosphere, with droning electronic noise on top of distorted guitar, paving the way for some simply excellent soundscapes and atmosphere to complement the alt rock sound that the album has, pushing it far above what would be expected of such an album.

The album keeps its sound very cohesive all throughout, a constant tone that is extremely serious and at times, depressing. The first track 'Airbag' starts the album off extremely strong, with many elements that when listened to closely, almost seem as if they're playing slightly different songs, especially the bass, which plays a riff very similar to that of 'Porcupine Tree's' 'Hatesong' while the other instruments drone on, with the aforementioned electronic noises appearing throughout, all as Thom Yorke sings in his unique way, putting emotion into the music while simultaneously almost sounding as if he doesn't really care, which ends up working out in the song's favour quite significantly. 'Paranoid Android' is an easy choice for best song on the album, or by the band in general, a 3 piece song that simply builds upon itself in each section, starting off with beautiful layered riffs over a vocal melody that set up the extremely dark tone of it, complete with some breathtaking moments, particularly the hook. The song then takes on a much heavier approach, toning down the sonic depth and instead making each individual note from each instrument, along with vocals, be filled with power, all before the third section simply blows everything else out of the water, with some of the most perfect use of vocal harmonies and layering I've ever heard, with amazing use of mellotron on top of this, leading to one of the most powerful moments on the album.

After this point, the majority of the tracks can be put into one of two categories, the extremely atmospheric, relaxing songs, and the ones that are extremely tied to the alternative rock roots of the band. 'Subterranean Homesick Alien', 'Lucky' and 'The Tourist' all fit into this category for me, all heavily focusing on capturing particular emotions and tones, rather than making a catchy song, each sounding simply beautiful, with the last 2 closing off the album amazingly, with a gradual decrease in any sort of intensity, emotional or otherwise, until 'The Tourist' comes on, which is by far the most relaxing song on the album, and by the band in general. On the other end of the spectrum, 'Let Down', 'Karma Police', 'Electioneering' and 'No Surprises' all make for very solid alt rock tunes, with a lot of real depth to each track in terms of sound, even though the songs themselves seem very simple. 'Electioneering' is the exception to this, having a simple structure, but also being very simple and riff driven instead, with a fun, heavily distorted riff that simply allows one to rock out. 'Exit Music (For a Film)' marks easily the most impactful moment on the album, gradually building as everything distorts, starting off as a standard track before ending in something incredibly powerful and cathartic, as even Thom Yorke's usual droning vocals feel much more solemn here. 'Climbing Up the Walls' takes the atmosphere a step further by not making it depressing, as much as eerie, bordering on downright terrifying, with everything having a scratchy quality to it. The song has a very distant, isolated feel to it, with very sparing use of any sort of sound, with the drum beat being incredibly monotonous and simplistic, with any other noise being infrequent, bringing even more attention to the heavy vocal distortion. The other sounds begin coming in as the song progresses, constantly making everything feel more claustrophobic, with even the beautiful string arrangements simply serving to add more contrast to the unpleasant elements of the song, all ending in a chilling scream. 'Fitter Happier' is an odd track to me, because while all it provides is creepiness, I feel like it ties the album together, despite how musically poor it is, since there is very little there other than a robotic voice and minimalistic piano.

This is definitely an incredible album, no matter what genre you insist on putting it in. It's filled with powerful emotion, immersive atmosphere, and expert use of a wide variety of techniques, subsequently leading to a collection of sonically complex compositions, each sounding beautiful and simultaneously impressive when looked at closer. 'Radiohead' significantly refined and improved their sound from their previous two efforts, adding a level of complexity and atmosphere to their alternative rock roots, making for a simply incredible album all around.

Best Songs: Paranoid Android, Exit Music (For A Film), Climbing Up The Walls, Karma Police

Worst Songs: Fitter Happier

Verdict: An extremely good album with a lot of complexity to it, masked by a commercial sound, making it quite easy to listen to while also being quite interesting to analyse. Recommended to anyone who won't whine about a somewhat commercial sound.

Kempokid | 5/5 |


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