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Radiohead - The Bends CD (album) cover

THE BENDS

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.80 | 528 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The best Radiohead album

Yep, before they got all precious and boring, Radiohead released a great rock album in "The Bends." Recorded in the fall of 1994 at Abbey Road and released in the spring of 1995, "The Bends" built on the success of "Pablo Honey" but began fleshing out the sound beyond grungey-alt rock into the more exploratory territory later albums would inhabit. What is cool about "The Bends" is that they had not yet reached that place, they were only dabbling, and the combination of that curiosity with their superb rock chops at this point was dazzling.

From the shifting reverb waves of "Planet Telex" to the anthemic ballads like "High and Dry" the tracks were confident and vital. Yorke's unique if somewhat shrill wail rides the crunching wall of guitars and electronics, heavy as hell when they want it to be, and soft-lighted gorgeous other times. My favorite Radiohead track is here, the beast called "Bones" which in its live form just kicks my ass. "Nice Dream" is a nuanced beauty that sounds remarkably like Porcupine Tree in their more Britpop mode. With likely influences from The Pixies to REM to Floyd, Radiohead deliver a very consistent collection of tracks with no filler, and frankly it blows "OK Computer" off the map with its killer immediacy. Some accuse the songs of being akin to background tracks for the weepy conclusion of those awful teen television dramas, but that would be nitpicking. The proof comes in the car deck for me: throw in "The Bends", bury the volume, and you will drive well.

While I'll be beaten to death with a tire iron for saying this, Radiohead in my view is one of the most overhyped bands the world has ever seen. It had all been done earlier and better, but having said that, there is no denying the urgency, class, and poignancy of this collection. It is the one Radiohead album that still shakes the Earth beneath my feet, and one of the many memorable rock albums of the 1990s.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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