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Radiohead - The Bends CD (album) cover

THE BENDS

Radiohead

Crossover Prog


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5 stars The Bends. The second release from Radiohead following the lackluster Pablo Honey is considered by many fans and critics as one of the band's greatest acheivements, and affectivley destroyed the one- hit wonder title many had tagged them with. While still very much mired in the early 90's alternative sound, glimpses of the band that would later create on releases such as Ok Computer. An excellent starting point for any new Radiohead fan, and a great addition to anyone's collection, Prog or not.
Report this review (#33915)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ok, this is a great pop/alternative album. It has like five or six MTV hits, all of them with their nice commercial videos. In this record all of their lyrics are very bad and simple, so you can understand why their latest lyrics in the new albums talk about nothing now. Anyway, you're gonna love this CD if you've only heard Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys in your whole life, but you're gonna hate it if you've listened really good music like Genesis or Yes.
Report this review (#33916)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It really begins here, radiohead shook off the nirvana-ness of thier debut album and found their true sound here. It is evident from the very opening of "Planet Telex", a brilliant album with extraordinary lyrics and musical arrangement. This is a chilling introduction that pulls the listner in and suggests a brilliant ride. I must have heard this album a million times and it is always an incredible piece. Planet Telex is a great welcome to pure radiohead and immense music.

The guitar opening of the bends doesn't really suggest prog or experimentalism but the album follows on to a lot of unique sounds which are truely "out there". This recognised radiohead as a truely different rock act to come out of britain and take everyone by storm. "High and Dry" is a beautiful acoustic piece of music. Thoms voice has this sort of boring British depressing touch to it, which fits perfectly with the music. This is what makes Thom such a great vocalist even if he is far from being a Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice or Matt Bellamy, though that kind of vocal power isn't neccessary.

Jonny Greenwoods guitar manages to create the perfect soundtrack to a dull british depressing life mixed with angst, rock and energy. This albums lyrics, vocals and musical atmosphere provide a great release from it all. The music is deep and complex yet manages to compete with the simpler mainstream competition. This band have inspired so many and it all began here. "Fake Plastic Trees" carries on the beauty of misery with Thom hitting the high and emotional voice at the end of the song, providing one of Radioheads standout moments.

This depressing anarchy continues till album stunner "Just", delivering great guitar work, quirky experimentalism that was welcomed well into the britpop movement of the time. "My Iron Lung" serves as a great anthemic, Radiohead rock song. "Black Star" continues the power and emotion whilst "Sulk" is a standout outlook on being bummed out.

The album closer, "Street Spirit" really pushes the band and is a perfect prelude to what they became with OK Computer, this is truly the begining phase of all the qualities that brought Radiohead onto this site. This album is not prog per sey but in a weird and ironic way it brings all of the things that make a good prog and anti-mainsteam band into the mainstream. Introducing the world to a much more challenging and complex way of making music.

Report this review (#33918)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars If this was on any other site, I would give it a 5. However; it is on a progrock site. Alas, i can only give it a 3 on here.

The Bends is definately not as unique as later Radiohead albums. In fact the sound is quite ordinary compared to OK Computer. But despite that, it is still an outstanding album. It can be listened to straight through unlike a lot of Radiohead Albums. Even OK Computer has a song or two that I can't help but skip. The Bends starts off with the moderate tempo of Planet Telex which leads into the great title track. The album alternates between slower acoustic tracks like High & Dry and rocking songs like Bones. The Bends closes with Street Spirit which shows the band's musical brilliance. This album is much more accessible than most of Radiohead's works so it's a good place to start out with Radiohead.

Report this review (#33919)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before I go further, I want to say that I do consider RADIOHEAD prog in the overall view. While I despise the "next Pink Floyd" comparisons I used to hear, I do think that's the element the two bands have in common. There are also other cases of bands like TALK TALK starting out as very obvious 80s synth-pop, but suddenly "turning prog". This is EXACTLY what happened to RADIOHEAD.

The Bends isn't very prog, and I'll be the first to admit it. But I will state up front that is the only reason I'm deducting a star. Were I reviewing it anywhere else, I would give 5 stars, no questions asked. Yes, this is more pop-rock than anything, but about the best pop-rock you'll find anywhere. Even the poppiest tracks, like "Bones", work well in their production and execution, and do not disrupt the flow of the album in any way. Their talent is evident early on, and there are elements here that I think the RADIOHEAD fan ought to hear that don't appear in later albums. What about that pleasant Hammond organ in "Fake Plastic Trees"? That doesn't appear in their later albums, but is quite welcome here. Along similar lines, there seem to be some other interesting uses of the Leslie speaker with guitars, creating a guitar tone not unlike "Any Colour You Like" by PINK FLOYD. I can hear this on "Planet Telex" and "Bones" at least, and possibly in other places as well.

For those who appreciate THOM YORKE's vocals, this is probably one of the best albums for being able to hear the gentler, melodic side of his singing. The lyrics, I'll admit, aren't the best out there, but I regard YORKE's voice more as a musical instrument than a conveyance of information, and it causes no problems for me in listening. Probably the best vocal moment on the album (and one of the best in general) is "Fake Plastic Trees", and "Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was" deserves an honorable mention in this category as well. Other high points of The Bends include the opening track, "Planet Telex", "High and Dry", "Street Spirit", and from a lyrical standpoint, "Just". While I don't normally think much of RADIOHEAD's lyrics, I do like this description of self-destructive people that reminds me in tone of the much later song "A Punchup at a Wedding", from Hail to the Thief.

No...this is not typical prog. However, I think if you like even one of RADIOHEAD's albums, and do not insist upon every single album you hear being the most experimental prog, this album ought to come next. It may be the polar opposite of Kid A (their prog masterpiece, in my book), but I'm about to go out on a limb and say that within the genre The Bends, it is every bit the equal of Kid A in terms of what it's accomplished. They've made one "great" for the pop world, and one for the prog world, and I'm content to accept both gladly.

Report this review (#33920)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Comparing to OK Computer this record is a step backward to brit-rock but a definite progression towards Pablo Honey. Radiohead is always applying themselves to renew their styles and pushing further and further and further....

Wanting or not, this album pushed the limits of the band to the edges of a decent art rock. Everything is fitting into places; again. In their rock years, few could compete with the enormous intelligence radiating from those 5 guys. Yorke and the Greenwood brothers are aiming almost perfectly at every song. A nasty blend of fury and melancoly that makes your foot stomp but also forces respect because of the great writing.

Of course, this is not old fashioned progressive rock but why bashing a band that much? Some are missing a point here: this has as much 'progressive' potential than Styx, Supertramp or the late Rush years. So bashers, please back off.

I still remember reading in Rock n' Folk that Radiohead could be the new Pink Floyd. Actually, that could make a lot of sense. From Ok Computer and up, it's not entirely crazy.

Report this review (#33921)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
theinfiltrate
4 stars This album is consistent and has many good songs, yet it's a bit monotonous and few strike me as "classics". "High And Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees", "The Bends", and a few others are good songs with catchy melodies but they aren't "perfect". Some of this are rockers, others are "sad songs" (but not "ballads"). It's also very consistent. Think about an "OK Computer" but without all those textures and with grunge-styled guitars. Remove a star if you don't like this kind of music.
Report this review (#33922)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Bends is a good pop album with many catchy guitar riffs and nice melodies, Thom's singing is really powerful and the album is pretty consistent all the time. I liked it as a teenager, but I'm not interested in it anymore. It's a good way to start to move on to better music if you were listening to FM radio and MTV songs before, as Yes or ELP might be shocking and inaccesible for the unprepared listener. But this album gets boring pretty soon. I give it 3 stars because I liked it very much in the past. If I listened to it for the first time today, it would probably get one less.
Report this review (#33924)
Posted Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars i have only given this 4stars because it don't fit as prog rock album. but as an album in general it undoubtly deserves 5. this is an unbeleivable album and just screams intelligence.although it may not be immediatly obvious this is certainly a masterpiece and has a great importants to british music. not every song on this album is great and always pleasing to the ear but thats not the point of this music. theres a whole lot more to this album than meets the ear. these songs are the arts of the years of pain that thom suffered. broken hearts, rejection from society, anger at the way the world is being run, etc. yeah these are things we all have to deal with but thats where the familiarity comes in.you really do find youreslf saying "ohmygod thom knows just how i feel". it made me open my eyes to the world. hes not the greatest singer in the world but he sing with such emotion and really brings the song to life so it haunts you. hes been known to break down in tears while perfoming these songs. the band are clever enough to understand how powerful a single intrument is. the lirics explain things in the purest forms which arent always conventional and others are metaphoric. this can make the songs seem weird. this album goes alot deeper than some people realise. its actually very complex and makes you think. its changed my attitude a whole lot for the better. be careful.if you take this album seriously it can make you think f*ck everything. i dont think thats their intetion.its an intelligent band thatll only be appriciated by an intelligent heart. dont listen if youre depressed coz it will just make you worse
Report this review (#33926)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Radiohead is a excellent band and who made a better cd in 1995.I like Radiohead they are very good band of new geration, Thomas York is the gnome of the rock and sing fine.The Bend is good pop album with many catchy guitar riffs and nice melodies. I have this album and i am hapy with the album.The Bends. The second release from Radiohead following the lackluster Pablo Honey is considered by many fans and critics as one of the band's greatest acheivements, and affectivley destroyed the one- hit wonder title many had tagged them with. While still very much mired in the early 90's alternative sound, glimpses of the band that would later create on releases such as Ok Computer. An excellent starting point for any new Radiohead fan, and a great addition to anyone's collection, Prog or not.
Report this review (#33927)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
smelliottheat
4 stars Radioheads first great album!!

It is great but it isnt as good as any radiohead albums that followed, it was greatly overshadowed by OK computer, it isnt prog rock, it's very good alt' rock, it features some gr8 tracks, the album opens brilliantly with 'planet telex'.

however the only track that really stands up as a true 'radiohead' song (and the only one that wud have fit in well on OK computer and possibly kid A), is 'street spirit (fade out)' its also a gr8 way to end the album, its one of my favourite radiohead songs and one of their best album endings!!

this album was practically ignored wen released due to the 'brit-pop' scene taking all the attention away, it was quite an injustice, since this album is alot better than most of the brit-pop albums of 1995!!

this is a great album on its own, and a huge improvement on 'pablo honey' but compared to radiohead's later work, it doesnt stand up so well!!

4 stars - 7.5 out of 10!!

Report this review (#33928)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eclipse
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars RADIOHEAD's second album is a nice effort because it contains unique gems like "Street Spirit" and "Fake Plastic Trees". In fact, these 2 are the only real catchy moments in here, and after discovering "Kid A", "Amnesiac" and "Hail to the Thief" i conclude that "The Bends" doesn't get my attention anymore as it did months ago! I am more fan of "OKC" and their experimental era, and the heavy guitar work shown on some songs like "Just" and the title one hurts my ears and annoys me to no end. The opening song has a "dirty" sound, though a very nice vocal performance by Thom. In fact, this is the album that shows his singing skills at their best ("Bones" is another good example), but unfortunately the vocals and some few songs are the only points that blow me away here.

I strongly recommend this album to anyone, though. I have some problems with it because of the heavy, headache inducing guitar parts and i miss the experimental stuff found on their later albums, but i am sure that a lot will appreciate this work by RADIOHEAD. It is not bad, but i really don't care for this kind of music anymore, and i want more "different" and unique sounds to please my ears.

2,5 stars.

Report this review (#38617)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the most inspiring and original albums the world has ever seen.

From this web site I see that I am clearly a big fan of Progressive Rock in many of it's guises having listened to many of it's bands since 1978. My faves are Yes, Pink Floyd and more importantly Rush with whom I feel I have grown up with.

This album was pushed on me by a relative and it was played as background music during family and friend visits to my house. On the third occasion in the company of my best friend it suddenly dawned on me that I had not heard/understood a word he had said for over half an hour. My skills at conversation were on autopilot as I concentrated on the low volume music. (I only dread the incoherant babble I must have been saying). This was the ureka moment when I realised there was something very special in this album.

For those refering to this web site the later albums might be consider more naturally progressive. I find them artistic and experimental to the detriment of the whole sound. There are obviously exceptions, for example exit music on OK, however in general they do not formulate a complete sound as this album does.

To place this album amongst it's peers I would place it on the same podium step as IV by Led Zeppelin. This album stands out in its' time. The originality and bravery of this band (who at the time were not established as main stream experiencing more success in the US with Pablo than in the UK) to create such an emotional rollercoaster of sublimely beautiful music at the time they did in the market of Brit Pop that they did, is awesome, if not visionary. All hail the production/bank rollers for believing in them.

For anyone to claim this album is MTV pop rock has no memory of the real world events that unfolded. Songs on this album were in the top 10 and not played on mainstream UK radio. At a concert Yorke even commented to this affect seriously insulting the UK Radio 1 for playing High and Dry just 3 times in the period that it was in the charts, the Album peaking at number 4.

Their recognition came not because of air play but because with an album as brilliant as this is, it was never going to remain unheard.

The success of OK computer occurred only because The Bends had broken the world. Whilst more radical its' success is due more to the pop culture of band wagon riding and subsequent air play.

This album is in my opinion unsurpassed. Prog, definately not, but then why does prog have to define greatness. If this band deserves a mention on a prog rock web site, then its' finest work needs applauding too.

Report this review (#38631)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Starette
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars You're looking at a review for a Radiohead album. You can also tell the reviewer likes Radiohead because of the 4-star rating she gave this album. And you're probaby saying to yourself "oh no..not again." If you are indeed thinking along those lines: Take the veil away from your eyes, the plugs out of your ears, the pessimism from your heart and realise the meaning of life. I would've given this album a 5-star rating....IF it was really Progressive Rock, but unfortunately it has nothing to do with that genre.

The Bends was the first Radiohead album I heard- back when I was fourteen. Now I'm nineteen and as much as Radiohead aren't necessarily the *best* thing I've heard- I don't think I would've made it through this hard, hard life without them. Unfortunately I'm very 'weak' when it comes to holding my opinion: when someone I love has a completely different opinion to me I usually conform to their ideas (just SOME, not ALL...I'm not *that* weak!). For example, a previous boyfriend had me under the spell of System of a Down, Audioslave, Staind and other godawful mainstream/political extremities that all sound the same. And when I began going out with a largely Progressive Rock fan not long ago and he introduced me to this site, I started to get the paranoia I've felt before: that I'd lose my own music because of what his opinion is on it, that I'd probably end-up agreeing with everything he said even if it was a blatant attack of my favourite music, etc etc- you get the gist. So when I found Radiohead were on this site- I was actually VERY happy- despite what my boyfriend's views are on the same subject. I can learn about one of the bands I've loved so much for most of my youth AND learn about Prog Rock at the same time! God knows- Radiohead are not Progressive Rock. They don't even LIKE Prog Rock (has anyone else heard what Thom Yorke has to say about it?) but that doesn't diminish their status at all. Anyway- enough wankity wank-wank-ish-ness from me: These are my views on this gorgeous album:...

Planet Telex: This is a very 'vibrant', for want of a better word, start to the album- showing some of the best of Phil Selway's drumming and a rather catchy riff from Ed O'Brien's distorted guitar. I admit it: I'm a headbanger and I love this song. Phil's drumming can be a bit repetitive, as in most generic bands, but this track brings out his abilities (as does Where I end and You Begin from Hail To the Thief) and Radiohead may be pop-rock mainstream but they are most certainly NOT generic. Pablo Honey- that's as generic as they can go and even on that I have my doubts about the word. I just realised something: Phil Collins and Phil Selway are 2 fantastic drummers with the same name! (A random fact I thought I should share with you.) On Planet Telex- the thing to note is the lyrics: "You can walk it home straight from school, you can kiss it, you can break all the rules." Playing with our mind- getting us to ask questions: What the hell is 'it'? These are the kind of games I enjoy playing. And then "Everything is......broken." Radiohead have been noted for the depressing tones they sing in, and the depressing themes that appear in most, if not all, of their songs. Well, we can't question whether or not this song is depressing, by listening to the lyrics, but it's hard not to observe how uplifting the music is. There are definitely contrasting elements here. A beautiful high guitar solo sings above the other instruments before the track ends.

The Bends: I agree with the fact that this song isn't the *best* of songs but I still feel affectionately towards it. What, with the constant use of electric distorted guitar over repeating rythym and bass guitar- it's a better song to play in the Pub. Ed O'Brien is in fact a King of guitar who has yet to be acknowledged. Another subject to discuss, about this track, is Thom's voice. You may say it's whiny, you may say it's too high but has anyone ever considered the fact that it is precisely THAT which gives him his charm? Thom Yorke, Chris Martin and Peter Gabriel are three singers who (IMO) seem to sing as if they can't sing at times yet it is the emotion with which they sing that really makes the song. Indeed- Thom often sings as if the music takes him over. And so it should! Catchy lyrics from this song include: "Riding on the bus with my drip-feed on, talking to my girlfriend, waiting for something to happen. I wish it was the 60s, I wish we could be happy, I wish, I wish, I wish that something would HAPPEN." At times- I feel the pain of this character. Once again- a very up-beat song for a depressing theme.

High and Dry: This song is a bit bland, yet the lyrics do need applauding. I've always turned to this song when it somes to thinking about the stereotypical 'young depressed male who believes he has wasted his life.' To those who don't like Radiohead- I can see how their constantly depressing tone would annoy you. It's also a song that conveys a message from a friend to a man, and the message is "No wonder you're sad- you're STUPID!"- a message which is also conveyed in Just. This song is rather repetitive and has all the qualities of a ballad. It's not stunning but I give it credit for Thom's lyrics, beautiful use of melody and vibrato.

Fake Plastic Trees: This song is almost exactly the same as High and Dry except for the fact it's a lovesong- and a subtle one too. AND there's use of keyboard (yes- Radiohead DO use a keyboard) The lyrics have become a tad more *interesting* (eg: "He used to do surgery, on girls in the 80s, but gravity always wins.") and Thom's excellent use of falsetto is always moving. However- I would (like High and Dry) only give this song a 4/10 rating. Radiohead are GOOD at acoustic ballads, and they are good at romantic songs...in their own 'gothic' way, but it's not that area where they're at their BEST.

Bones: This is a good catchy song with an upbeat pace, even with a more optimistic theme: It's not about depression, it's about fear IMO. (But lyrics can be so subtle- so please don't take my opinions as fact.) However- the lack of key-change doesn't allow it to stick in your brain after listening to the album once. Only one line tends to stick: "And you'rve GOT to FEEL it IN your Bones!" Your've got to love they way Thom puts emphasis on some words in the melody but not others. Thanks to the two Greenwoods and Ed'OBrien (*especially* Ed) Radiohead have some of the best guitar-work of all bands from this era. (That is to say: pop/rock bands from the 1990s onwards) But this is only a taste. Their best from this album is not yet heard.

(Nice Dream): Comforting Lullaby... a guitar played high on the stave...the recurring strumming of another guitar...Thoms lazy voice singing a high melody which is happily- sad (pardon my usage of an oxymoron). This song is nothing short of Beautiful. It's seemingly-simple melody is calming, it's lyrics...(as usual)...curious. "I called up my friend the good angel, but she's out with, her answerphone. She said that she'd love to come help but, the sea might, electrocute us all." (forgive me if I have some of those words wrong) Watch out for the sudden change in the tone of the song at the bridge: electric guitars raise above the others and the drumming gets louder. It's unexpected and if you love Progressive Rock then you have to appreciate this just a *little* bit at least! After the bridge it sinks back into it's sleepy zone. The high-guitar fades out the song with it's repetitive but sweetly-calming riff. Just a few meditations on what this song is about: Is the singer really happy or does he Want to be happy? Is he satisfied with what he has or is he missing something oh-so very badly? OR...is this song really the drifting in and out of dreams that we get at night? (in that case- for example- the bridge can be seen as the random wavering of a nightmare.)

Just: This song is LEGENDARY! The guitar-work reaches its best here and the drumming- perfect. Changes in riffs, time-signature and keys make this 1) good enough to be appreciated by even the most steadfast progger 2) good for banging ones head to 3) even good for DANCING to! and 4) hard to get out of one's head after the album is over. Has anyone seen the video for this? Because that, too, is mind-boggling as are most of Radioheads lyrics. I'm not giving anything away- please try and see it for yourself. Thom can do things with his voice that range from the lovely to the just-plain- odd. This song portrays most of those techniques. Also...call me tacky but I find this song hard to get out of my head whenever I have to help someone close to me who appears to have gotten themself into deep sh*t: "You do it to yourself, you do, that's what really hurts, is you do it to yourself, you do, you and no-one else!" Same theme as High and Dry, in a sense, yet a LOT more jumpy and optimistic.

My Iron Lung: This song is my all-time favourite of Radiohead's music. In a decades time- it ought to be a CLASSIC. From the mysterious high-distorted twinkling riff of Ed's guitar and Thoms lazy vocals to the hard mosh-pit catharsis that repeats and accumulates towards the end with Thoms becoming more passionate in the singing and the rythmn-change in the thrashing of Phil's drumming...who could resist? Be you a progger or mainstream...who could Possibly resist loving this song?? (sorry- my affection for this song gets a bit out of hand) The guitar riff which sounds so eerie and strangely beautiful is, surpisingly, not that hard to play on the guitar. But it IS hard to master. I don't think anyone after Ed and Jonny can *quite* match their skill. QUINTESSENTIAL Radiohead!!!!!!

Bulletproof...I wish I was: You would think this song is like High and Dry...but No. Guitar-work= more complex therefore *better*, Singing= all over the place in the melody therefore *better*, Chordal-progression= more creative therefore *better*! I'd class this song with (Nice Dream) in the sense that the instrumental techniques used are outstanding but theme-wise it's almost the same as High and Dry: it appears to be sung by a man who wants self-esteem/thicker-skin/ the ability to stand-up for himself. Of course, this is only my interpretation of it, but the mood is catching. Yet more touches of a depressing romance: "Wax me, mould me, heat the pins and stab them in, you have turned me into this...just wish that it was Bulletproof." This song is very slow and calming.

Black Star: This appears to be about Love on the Rocks- or something of the sort. But that's pretty much the most noticeable thing about it. Apart from that, it's about as good as Bones. Good for head-banging yet guitar-work not at it's pitch. Drums and guitar 'dance' well together. Now, as much as I'm kicking myself for it, I can't be bothered saying much more about this track. It's good yet..rather generic. It's the kind of song that I would'nt mind listening to every now and then, for old times sake, but I can't really brag about it.

Sulk: Oh noooooo! Why did you have to go so horribly bland Thom?? Don't get me wrong- I'm exaggerating a little in my opinion of this track- but in comparison with the rest of the album it just sounds so BORING! Well...it's a love song to sing along to. End of story. *nod nod*

Street Spirit (fade out): This is a great contrast with the vibrant Planet Telex that began the album and it is precisely that which makes it a good song to close the album with. The fast acoustic guitar is gorgeous and it sounds almost like the type of riff your'd hear in a sad 70's ballad for a children's cartoon (sorry- all of a sudden I began to think of Dot and the Kangaroo). The video for this is'nt as good as the one for Just but I still recommend you see it. Sing-songy and sad- not perfect but satisfying.

In short- this album is not as *generic* as I'm suppossing most of you will make it out to be. From lullabies to mosh-pits, the moods in this album are various. Just listen to My Iron Lung and I *guarantee* your'll get something good out of it.

Report this review (#41349)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yeah i know, This IS NOT a prog record. Why is here? it is obvious. Radiohead have concept albums like Ok Computer, Kid A or Amnesiac. The others make their way here too. I don´t rate this album as if it is more or less progressive, i give it the stars i think by they deserve by the music, So it is not true it is a great adittion to any prog collection! but it is a Great album. I will rate it song by song

Planet Telex: A Good Start. Disturbing drums and catchty melodies. It isn´t a masterpiece but it rules (8/10)

The Bends: An excellent song with a great voice overloaded by guitars. Great song anyway (8,5/10)

High and Dry: Catchy balllad, What a excellent instrumentation!This looks good (9/10)

Fake Plastic Trees: Mmm I don´t agree choosing 2 ballads one beside the other. Anyway this is not a concept album , is it?. This is an anthem itself but maybe less original (8/10)

Bones: Catchy, it reminds me The Bends. (8,5/10)

(Nice Dream): Good production, good arrangements and after all a GREAT instrumental path, if the end was in the same mood it would become a bit boring. (8/10)

Just: Wow This seems grunge, no! it´s brit pop! What is it?. Brilliant guitar Work!. For me it is the best song (10/10)

My iron Lung:We listened before as an Ep. It is a sweet/rocker song that makes you feel again how good are Radiohead guitar players (9/10)

Bullet Proof...: Not a bad song, another ballad ( too many for me) (8/10)

Black Star: Blame on the falling sky......, this song makes me drop tears, it´s so sweet so charming.... (9,5/10)

Sulk: Good Arrangements , not a bad song but a bit boring (7,5/10)

Street Spirit: The dramatic End, again thom make beautiful falsetos. (9/10)

Well finishing my review i will say that i don´t like the way they put their tracks. As a Prog Album/Concept album this one deserves a 0,5/10,

but as a Alt Rock Album my rating is...

.8,5/10

Report this review (#51675)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
davidlevinson
2 stars This entry is similar to the entry on Pablo Honey, On an Alt level the album is quite good. It's a bit more polished then P.H. It has songs that deal with angst and despair. The album is not in the same vain as O.K. Computer or the others thereafter. The one track that starts to go into OKC territory is the last song: Street Spirit(Fade Out). It's a similar situation with Echoes on Pink Floyds Medal, where in it introduces the style of Dark Side Of The Moon. The Bends is good but not reccomended for Prog- fanatics
Report this review (#61636)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "You can force it but it will not come." "Everything is broken".

And so Radiohead went into the studio to attempt to produce something that might eclipse the hugely anthemic "Creep" from their debut, and both failed and succeeded.

There is nothing on "The Bends" that is quite as immediate, infectious or full of the late 1990s "Alternative Rock" flavours as "Creep" - so that is the failure.

There is no filler on "The Bends", however, and the songs are written imaginatively, the lyrics are written thoughtfully, and the music itself is daringly experimental for the scene it grew out of. While there are no long tracks, improvisations or even Roger Dean covers, there are 12 songs that are texturally and stylistically very different from each other.

As with the proverbial onion, there are so many layers in here that it would be pointless listening once or twice and coming to the conclusion that it's an onion - especially without peeling away at the layers first. That would be to miss out on all the really good stuff inside.

Radiohead pushed the envelope in all directions, and succeeded in producing a Progressive Alt-Rock album of a quality so high, in terms of songwriting, arrangement and attention to detail in the production that it surely must appeal to anyone that appreciates the finer points in rock music. The music lives on in the inspiration it has given to so many other guitar-based bands - although not as ubiquitously as the ensuing masterpiece, "OK Computer".

The opening spacey keyboards of "Planet Telex" tell you immediately that this is not your standard guitar-band stuff. The reverb-drenched, driving rhythm that follows has an immediacy that is extremely engaging, and when the full-on, fat bass kicks in, tighter than a tight thing in Tightsville, you can really feel the band getting a groove going. But then the band cut across it, just as you're really getting into it, with delayed, angular guitar alternating subtly between minor and major to give the disturbing feeling of a key base being kicked away from underneath you. We end the same way we began with a coda based around the short mantra "Why can't you forget", with some stunning melodic ideas from Johnny G. This coda-style ending would become prevalent on OK Computer (e,g, "Paranoid Android", "Karma Police") and is an important feature of Radiohead's evolving and progressive sound.

"The Bends" begins with a Radio playing, then crashes into a far less spacey and more raucous style that plays with rhythm, starts and stops, cross rhythms and complete changes - Phil Selway putting in some really tasty licks. Thom shows off a wide variety of vocal styles, including a quasi-rap "Just lying in the bar with my drip feed on Talking to my girlfriend, waiting for something to happen. I wish it was the sixties, I wish I could be happy, I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen".

"High and Dry"is the first of the hit singles from this album, and is dedicated by the band to "older people, who don't like loud music" (source: www.greenplastic.com). It's a very well written song, with strong melodies, a rich acoustic guitar backing and clean, melodic guitar lines - a HiFi fanatics wet dream really, as each instrumental part has meticulous care lavished upon it. Enjoy this one for the melodies, but listen to the rich textures and you'll get even more out of this song.

Another single follows; "Fake Plastic Trees" begins with a slow acoustic entry, later joined by drifting synth pads, rich Hammonds and Mellotrons, while Thom croons beautifully, using his delicate falsetto - the whole combining to produce some outstanding timbres that almost make the song itself seem irrelevant. This is not a pop song, it is a sonic work of art. You must not be in a hurry to judge it :o)

Another contradictory texture change starts "Bones", and Thom sings closer to the mike with a much fuller vocal sound, while Johnny G "does a Latimer", squeezing every last drop of emotion from a single note. Shredders, take note - this is how it's done! The chorus is bone-crunching and angst-ridden - the fear of getting old is well represented in this chunky rocker, but the tag line "You've got to feel it in your bones" could equally apply to the music.

"Nice Dream" begins with a nicely dreamy acoustic guitar - in fact, all the instrumental layers go for the onamatapaeic approach. Another thing of beauty from the Radiohead guys that has flavours of Prog Rock all over it - but also real invention, especially where it picks up and intensifies around 2:30. It must be remembered that this is not Prog of the 1970s, but of the 1990s - and the rules are where you find them.

"Just" is, on the surface, another Alt-Rock anthem, but it twists and turns around some extremely angular key-changes before launching into the hard-rockin', singalong chorus. It's the developing instrumental bridge that is the centerpiece here - real jewel.

The opening hard-flanged guitar of "My Iron Lung" sets the scene perfectly - a really progressive rock song full of anger - apparently about Radiohead being pulled from the Reading festival because they didn't have more songs like "Creep". Indeed not - they had loads better. "Suck, suck your teenage thumb, Toilet trained and dumb - When the power runs out We'll just hum. This, this is our new song, Just like the last one, A total waste of time. My Iron Lung". Needless to say by now, this is a fantastic song with stunning and colourful textures, winding, inventive melodies, intriguing instrumental interplay and counterpoint, sharply shifting harmonies and driving, insistent rhythms with pointed accents in exactly the right places and above all, a chorus more raucous than raucous ought sensibly to be, in a deeply bitter and caustic way.

The delicate textures of "Bullet Proof" are yet more evidence that Radiohead had become far more than just another Alt Rock band. This song is not a ballad, and it must be pointed out that Radiohead have never written a ballad, since a ballad narrates a story - and Radiohead's songs tend to encapsulate feelings about a situation or event in a portraitive manner hardly ever dipping into narrative.

The rich complexities of the choruses of "Black Star", framed by sparse verses with beautiful build-ups make for a very satisfying and engaging listen, but "Sulk" gives the first hint of things to come in "Kid A" with its stunning inventiveness. It's really difficult to hear the verses of this song and not thing Prog Rock - although the choruses are strongly anthemic. It's an uncomfortable juxtaposition that only goes to underscore just how experimental Radiohead were at this phase in their career.

The album closes with the utterly perfect "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", a song that defies definition and categorisation, but instead sits as a testament to Radiohead's abilities to write classic songs with longevity in mind rather than pure "hits". The immediacy of this song belies its capacity for repeated enjoyment on the part of the listener.

When I approached this review, I was quite prepared to award 4 stars, denying its status as a masterpiece of Prog, but instead recommending it as an Excellent addition to a Prog collection - which it is.

However, having strapped the cans on and listened with my reviewing ears switched on, I am truly moved to wonderment at the amount of stuff I've missed on this album, despite owning it for 10 years or so now.

Hence it snatches that coveted 5th star from my grasp - it's not in the same vein as any of the Prog Rock classics, but then Prog Rock is not a particular style. This album doesn't even have an overall concept that I can make out - but it is created as a work of art rather than a simple rock album, with intense attention to detail and a wide palette of individual and original ideas that mingle satisfyingly with the older ones.

Yep, it's a masterpiece of Prog for the 1990s alright - I would recommend it to proggers above the offerings from, say, Porcupine Tree, the Flower Kings and even Marillion from this time (although maybe not Spock's Beard!). Although all released fine albums between 1995-6, the music does not approach the daring and finely crated sonic sculptures on offer here.

Small wonder that Radiohead felt that they were being overlooked after they released this album. True quality is so easy to miss if you don't know what you're looking for.

Report this review (#79855)
Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My love!!!

Well, i started with that words, because this album is super special for me, if you don`t know Radiohead is my favorite band, when i started to dig in music, i found them and since then i have loved them and im sure i will, strange that i hadn`t reviewed this album, but now i have some little time and the will to do it.

I dont know if you consider Radiohead as a progressive rock band, that doesn`t matter im giving you only my opinion, but let me tell you a couple of reasons of why i love them:

1.- It`s said that lyrics and vocals maybe are the less important thing in music, when you have good music, why bothering in lyrics and vocals, anyway the point of this is the opposite, despite the great musicianship here, i think lyrics are great, some might say that they are extremely sad and melancoholic, and you are right sometimes, but that weird lyric style (Thom Yorke is a genius, and what a great voice) makes this band especially great.

2. Talking about music, accomplishing the lyrics, we find in Radiohead also melancoholic and sad music in several songs, they have made their own style and they are a prototype of band, so many "younger" or even older artist have covered some Radiohead songs, they have another genious but this time playing the lead guitar, Jonny Greenwood who besides guitar makes lots of noises, effects and play so many more instruments, an average bassist, a superb drummer (i invite you to see some Radiohead Live Concert, and `you will see), and another nice guitarist, all making a superb band called Radiohead.

Well, now the review:

"Planet Telex", let me tell you that i you have a doubt about Radiohead progressiveness, here you will find a nice example, this is the first song of the album and it`s great, here you will find extraordinary distorted guitar sound, which make a very progressive sound during the song.

"The Bends" this self titled song is not the best, dont think that because of the name it could be the most representative song, not at all, is another nice song, with nice lyrics and good guitar riffs.

"High and Dry", here the monster songs arrive, this is a beautiful song, and this is very representative, maybe poppish, im pretty sure that you have listened to it`s acoustic guitar intro, and that baby Yorke`s voice, bot progressive at all this time, but very enjoyable for your ears.

"Fake Plastic Trees" oh my god, this is marvelous, a hymn, and im not overexcited about it, im telling simply the truth, this song probably if you enter deep on it, it will make you feel a bit weak, and why not, fell bad, blue and with a tear running down your eyes, the lyric and the mood is fantastic, but again this is not for everyone`s taste.

"Bones" weaker song here, nice chorus and very well arranged, but nothing more, maybe the less experimental and complex of them all.

"Nice Dream" is another acoustic ballad, which for me is beautiful becasue Yorke`s voice and then some back vocals at the end of the song.

"Just" is a powerfull song, full of great guitars and a superb drums playing here, i have to say it, Phil Selway has been considered long time as an average drummer, but believe me, he`s fantastic, so this song is, with an alternative sound maybe, but with some real good changes during it`s short lenght(you do it to yourself, and thats what really hurts).

"My Iron Lung" was released in a self titled EP before this album, and im sure it marked a new beggining of experimentation after that alternative and weak Pablo Honey, this song has again great changes, it starts with an always memorable guitar, then bass making the rythm but suddenly all turns so fast and noisy, great!!

"Bullet Proof" is another ballad, with again distorted guitar, acoustic guitars and beautiful sound, love it.

"Black Star" is another song that wont be your favorite at all, again it has a chorus to sing (blame it on the black staaar... ), but it`s only an average song, maybe alternative, but with a british sign.

"Sulk", i think this song is very unknown, and it was one of my first loves, i remember when i bought this album i loved it since the first time i listened to it, and why?, maybe because of Yorke`s voice, he reachs high levels, very challenging, but musically not the best.

"Street Spirit" another Oh My God here, this ong kicks ass, very original and innovative for 1994, with a especial mood during the sound, and again a fantastic guitar sound, this song is symply perfect, nowadays i can tell you that this is my favorite song of the album, a masterpiece to close a great album (also the video is fantastic)

Well, after all this explanation and little review, i have to tell you something, we have our favorite bands, and all opinions about them are respected, im sure Radiohead is maybe a love it or hate it band, and also i know it`s inclusion here was controversial, and maybe when you see this big review, you will skip it and go to another page.

The review ends so far, as you can imagine, i really love this album, and for me it deserves an obvious 5 stars.

My love!!

Report this review (#82989)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just when everybody thought that Radiohead is a "One Hit Wonder", Radiohead had proved them wrong. Two years after "Pablo Honey", they released "The Bends", which proves without a doubt that Radiohead can be multi-colored and to have a rough, non-mainstream records.

Radiohead had a huge progress since their first album, and "The Bends" truly expresses many human feelings: starting with the fear from differency ("Fake Plastic Trees"), Self Hatred ("Just"), till loneliness ("Street Spirit"). "The Bends' symbols the perfect writing by Thom Yorke - with the disappointment & fear that are so typical to him.

Although the media has not gave "The Bends" it's place, but with the time Radiohead placed themselves in the top of the world music. The process that Radiohead has done continued with the entrance of producer Nigel Godrich, that can be seen on "OK Computer" & later on. The joined work had great results on this album and kept the improvement from the first album.

My favorite tracks are - first, "Fake Plastic Trees", the most emotional song that Radiohead ever provided, speaks about the fear from being different. The other one is "Street Spirit" - that combines great song with one of the best video clips iv'e ever seen.

So for this album, which i like very much, i give 4 stars.

Report this review (#83007)
Posted Friday, July 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like so many other reviewers, this album would demand a full five-star rating if not for the fact that it isnt prog. 95 percent of the songs are completely well put together. Radiohead completely masters british rock with this album. It is not a masterpiece of a prog, its a masterpiece of british rock, so if that turns you off completely, dont try it. It is one heck of an album.

The only songs I dont really think are that great are "black star" and "sulk" Other then that, the songs are GREAT! Usually these sort of albums are pretty good on first listen then you dont really discover anything new with it. Oddly enough, this one behaves like a prog album, it takes a few listens to fully digest it, and it is brilliant when you finally do.

Give it a chance if you think you could dig it, if you cant, dont. Its awesome, but I could see how strictly prog fans wouldnt like it.

Report this review (#98521)
Posted Monday, November 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars

Radiohead: The Bends (1995)

Thom Yorke: Vocals, Guitar Johnny Greenwood: Lead Guitar, Organ, Synthesizer, Piano Colin Greenwood: Bass Phil Selway: Drums Ed O'Brian: Guitar, Backing Vocals

It may be hard to believe that the hard-hitting alternative band Radiohead was called 'a lily livered excuse for a rock band'. With the release of the first LP Pablo Honey and their well known single Creep, they had been criticsed as a one hit wonder, as they failed to release any other track on the record prior to the fame of Creep. It seemed to be that Creep was the only track on the record that had any potential of fame.

Due to the criticism given to Radiohead, in 1995 they released their second LP known as The Bends. The album followed the popular path of Indie Rock, tracks such as High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees and Street Spirit (Fade Out) are only a few of many Indie anthem tracks on the record. The album was voted 100th best album of all time out of 500 in the Rolling Stones magazine. So far it seemed that all critics had been proved wrong.

The name of the album refers to decompression sickness, which is where deep-sea divers come up to the surface of the sea to quick, thus the name of the album being a metaphor of Radiohead's sudden and unexpected fame. The lyrics throughout written by Thom Yorke are all related to his unhappiness, his lyrics are mostly seen as health metaphors in songs such as Bones and My Iron Lung. These songs are related to real life problems in the society that we live in and the suffering that some people have to go through in life. Thom Yorke's lyrics are somewhat notorious for being depressive and dissatisfied. He uses themes such as alienation and technology, of which are most popular in their records.

There are two sides to the album, one being the classic Indie Rock most famous in the time of 1995, another being an array of Orchestra and synthesized loops. Radiohead's alternative style heard in the album differs to the bleach blonde Indie Rock that was usually heard in 1995.

The album opens with possibly the most contemporary track on the record. Planet Telex opens the album with synthesized background loop alongside keyboard and spaced out guitar rhythm. The lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood shows his matchless style of playing with classic heavy riffs to clean cut solos. Johnny was originally given the roll of playing the Harmonica, when ironically turned out to be the bands lead guitarist.

Five songs were released on the album; those being My Iron Lung, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just and Street Spirit (fade out). Fake plastic Trees was a huge hit in the U.S and quickly became an album favourite. The song begins with a soft acoustic touch alongside the light, high vocals from Yorke, thus leading to the ending of the song in a trance that was very unique to the sound of 1995.

Songs such as Just show that there was still a fast, strong side to Radiohead, as the striking acoustic riff leads to a heavily distorted introduction. The song shows that Radiohead had not diverted away from Indie Rock and that due to the fast riffs and textbook vocals, Just is just what earlier fans wanted to hear. The song can be compared to You, the opener from Pablo Honey, both being very strong and aggressive. The critically acclaimed video shows the seriousness in the song, and the ending to it has boggled minds from all over the globe.

Other songs such as Street Spirit (Fade out) or High and Dry were seen as Radiohead's best ever. The incomparable acoustic riff in Street Spirit has shown that the song is one of the biggest cult anthems of the 90's. Vocally, the song is more emotional than ever before, as the lengthy elevated sound of Thom's voice was yet another first for Radiohead. Yorke may have stretched his voice to such a pitch in Pablo Honey, but never before had he kept the note for such a long time. High and Dry also shows a more sad and unhappy feeling, as lyrically the song is about being hated, and left out. The song begins with a customized drum beat lead to an acoustic rhythm alongside the faded lead in the background.

The Bends has been and still is considered not only one of Radiohead's best albums, but one of the very best albums of all time. Although, The Bends seemed to be firmly pushed off the shelf once they released there latter album prior to The Bends, OK Computer. Ok Computer was recently voted by millions of English television viewers the greatest album of all time, overcoming such albums by The Beatles and U2. In a way the albums are similar guitar-wise, although OK Computer was the beginning of Radiohead's 'experimental' era, of which still lives up to date in albums such as Amnesiac, Kid A and Hail to the Thief.

Report this review (#102824)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Radiohead: The Bends (1995)

Thom Yorke: Vocals, Guitar

Johnny Greenwood: Lead Guitar, Organ, Synthesizer, Piano

Colin Greenwood: Bass

Phil Selway: Drums

Ed O'Brian: Guitar, Backing Vocals

It may be hard to believe that the hard-hitting alternative band Radiohead was once called 'a lily livered excuse for a rock band'. The release of the first LP "Pablo Honey" and their subsequent well known single "Creep" were somewhat heavily criticised. They were described as a one hit wonder as they failed to release any other track on the record prior to the fame of "Creep". It seemed that "Creep" was the only track on the record with any potential of fame.

Stung by the criticism Radiohead released their second LP known as "The Bends" in 1995. The album followed the popular path of Indie Rock with tracks such as "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". These are now widely regarded as genuine Indie anthem tracks. The album was voted 100th best album of all time out of 500 in the Rolling Stones magazine; it became clearer that all critics had been proved wrong.

The album name "Bends" refers to decompression sickness. This medical condition develops when deep-sea divers come up to the sea surface too quickly. Many perceive the name of the album as a metaphor of Radiohead's sudden and unexpected fame. The lyrics throughout are written by Thom Yorke an commonly relate to hid unhappiness. Hid lyrics are mostly seen to be metaphors referring to health matters in songs such as "Bones" and "My Iron Lung". These songs are related to genuine problems in society that we live in and the suffering that some people endure during their lifetime. Thom Yorke uses themes such as alienation and technology and his lyrics are notorious for giving the feeling of depression and dissatisfaction.

There are two sides to the album. The first being the classic Indie Rock most famous in the time of 1995, the second being an array of orchestra and synthesized loops. Radiohead's alternative style heard in the album differs to the bleach blonde Indie Rock that was usually heard in 1995.

The album opens with possibly the most contemporary track on the record. "Planet Telex" sways with its synthesized background loop alongside keyboard and spaced out guitar rhythm. Lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood shows his matchless style of playing with classic heavy riffs to clean cut solos. Johnny was originally given the roll of playing the Harmonica, but ironically became the backbone of the band with his superb skills on lead guitar.

Five songs were released on the album; "My Iron Lung", "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees", "Just" and "Street Spirit (fade out)". "Fake plastic Trees" was a huge hit in the U.S and quickly became an album favourite. The song begins with a soft acoustic touch alongside the light, high vocals from Yorke, Which leads one into a trance by the ending of the song. A very unique sound in the Brit pop era of 1995.

"Just" shows that there was still a fast, strong side to Radiohead, as the striking acoustic riff leads to a heavily distorted introduction. It shows that Radiohead had not diverted away from Indie Rock and the fast riffs and textbook vocals were what earlier fans wanted to hear. The song can be compared to You, the opener from Pablo Honey, both being very strong and aggressive. The critically acclaimed video shows the seriousness in the song, the ending has boggled minds from all over the globe.

Other songs such as "Street Spirit (Fade out)" or "High and Dry" were seen as Radiohead's best work ever. The incomparable acoustic riff in "Street Spirit" has shown that the song is one of the biggest cult anthems of the 90's. Vocally, the song is more emotional than ever before, as the lengthy elevated sound of Thom's voice was yet another first for Radiohead. Yorke may have stretched his voice to such a pitch in "Pablo Honey", but never before had he kept the note for such a long time. "High and Dry" also shows a more sad and unhappy feeling, as lyrically the song is about being hated, and left out. The song begins with a customized drum beat leading to an acoustic rhythm alongside the faded lead guitar in the background.

"The Bends" has been and still is considered not only one of Radiohead's best albums, but one of the very best albums of al time. Although, "The Bends" seemed to have been firmly pushed off the shelf due to the release of their follow-up album, "OK Computer". "OK Computer" was recently voted by million of English television viewers as the greatest album of all time, beating critically acclaimed albums The Beatles and U2. In a way both "The Bends" and "OK Computer" are similar guitar-wise, although the latter was the beginning f Radiohead's experimental era which can still be heard to date in "Amnesiac", "Kid A'" and "Hail to the Thief".

Report this review (#103100)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The beginning of the golden years.

Radiohead's 3 essential albums begins here (after this came OK Computer and Kid A). This is some of alternative rock's finest. Radiohead are able to blend commercially appealing music with an array of various sonic sounds and some rudimentary exploration into electronic sounds here. While not quite as good as OK Computer, nor as experimental, this album is quite infectious, though it is more of a younger audiences record than a graybeard's.

With maybe one exception, I feel that most of the tracks do not stand out and are more or less equal in quality. The only exception to this is Just, which is a personal favorite of mine. The album is essentially an alternative record with minor to almost no prog sensibilities (no flying mellotrons here). However, the album is unique enough to make it "distinct". Radiohead as a whole is essentially like no other alt. rock band (the intro to the album should surprise many doubters). While there song construction throughout is oriented towards providing a simplicity that almost any music fan can enjoy, it is their dynamics which many fans have cherished and raved about which make them stand out from other commercial bands. It is these dynamics which give the band a progressive feel and context. Such examples can be found in Bones, Bulletproof... I wish I was, and Sulk.

Not the bands best effort, but perhaps the most accessible. Yorke's vocals are not quite as acerbic as on other albums, and it has the most commercial appeal of their better releases. A good starting ground for fans of traditional rock to bridge into progressive material.

Report this review (#103372)
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I seriously don't know why The Bends gets so much slobbering praise, it's a pretty good album but nothing spectacular. There are some excellent songs like "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit" however but there are very similar, and not as inventive and good as this equivalent songs. In The Bends the quality of composition stays consistent, but not so emotionally as in Pablo Honey. Overall the album does a good job in opening the path to progressive rock of Radiohead in the next albums 3.5 *
Report this review (#104575)
Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this is a great album, but not "an essencial masterpiece of progressive music".

It's just a bunch of superb alt. pop-rock songs, with Fake Plastic Trees, Street Spirit and High & Dry being highlights. This album is the perfect bridge between the depressive grunge of Pablo Honey and the tender, melancholic OK Computer. This is, IMO, the pure and authentic style of Radiohead at his peak, before the more experimental and electronic Kid A and the following LPs, Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief.

This one, togheter with OK Computer, are the essencial band's discography and if you want to know them, I recommend to start with it, or with OKputer. Thom Yorke has a great feeling in his voice, and the lyrics are sometimes intrincated but excellent, and the music... What can I say? Five stars.

P.D.: Three stars if we are rigorous PROG reviewers.

P.D.: My english isn't the best. Excuse me.

Report this review (#109082)
Posted Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the band that I knew quite strange enough from attending a seminar in Singapore where one of the participants said that he knew a rock group which was very popular in Singapore where many youngsters love them very much. So browsed the CD at HMV and found out this album "The Bends" which did not impress me at all at first spin because there did not seem so obvious what kind of music they are playing. Since then I never believe people's recommendations unless I can check it out on what taste does he have. Otherwise I got in trouble buying new CDs for me. With the passages of time I was not bothered to spin the CD until I read and article from Guitar book that says Jonny Greenwood was considered as one of the most innovative guitar player. According to the article, the album where Greenwood plays his innovative work is "The Bends". Based on this info, I grabbed the CD and played it at my stereo set.

Having experienced and exposed to many types of prog music from neo prog, symphonic prog, prog met, avant garde, Zeuhl, and RIO, I finally can see the beauty of this album especially in producing soundscapes and effects from guitar. This is especially true with the music of Porcupine Tree, Ozric Tentacles, etc. I can see that Radiohead is innovative in this manner. The melody line is basically very straight forward from intro to end of each song. But the textures and music layers are quite dynamics from one particular segment to another. The extreme case is for track 8 "My Iron Lung" where the use of effects is quite subtle and very easy to identify. I am here not to talk about whether or not Radiohead is prog - it's irrelevant to discuss now. The point is, yes, Radiohead's strong point for me is the creativities to produce sound effects from guitar. This is proven with me watching the DVD of Radiohead in Amnesty International performances. I can see from my eyes how the band played the effects on great song "Paranoid Android" from "OK Computer" album.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

DragonForce "Live in Jakarta: May 19, 2007". Featuring The Fastest Metal Guitar Virtuoso. Be There! Or Die!

Report this review (#120941)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Listening to this album again really takes me back to the nineties when I really got into Alternative Rock. "The Bends" is where RADIOHEAD start to create their own sound and identity, led by Yorke's soulful and urgent vocals.

The first sounds we hear are that of spacey synths that sound like a solar breeze coming from "Planet Telex". This is such a good opening track. The song ends as it began. "The Bends" has some passionate vocals and good guitar. It's ok. "High And Dry" is a song that makes me smile. Acoustic guitars leads the way. "Fake Plastic Trees" is so sad, yet so uplifting and emotional. I have been listening to this cd at work all week and the first time this song came on I said to my daughter (who is working for me this summer) "Sarah ! Fake plastic trees !" She just looked at me and put her hand on her heart. That pretty much sums up my feelings exactly.

"Bones" is a straight up Alternative Rock tune. "(Nice Dream)" has some violin in it and some screaming guitar towards the end. "Just" is an aggressive song with lots of guitar including some scorching solos. "My Iron Lung" is the one song that brings to mind NIRVANA with those grungy sections. Perhaps because this was a song that was previously released on a self titled EP. "Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was" is a melancholic song, yeah Yorke is the king of mournful vocals. "Black Star" is about falling out of love. And works well coming after such sadness. "Sulk" has probably the best vocals on this album. Outstanding ! "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is a cool song with vocal melodies and acoustic guitar. One of the best songs on the record.

For "Fake Plastic Trees" alone I highly recommend this record.

Report this review (#123421)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered this wonderful band with their huge hit "Creep"... And when I heard this album for the first time in 1996, I was surprised by the quality of all the songs (music + lyrics).

Basically, Radiohaed's first progressive album is "Ok Computer", but The Bends is a necessary step that lead them from grunge (Pablo Honey) to progressive music (OK Computer)

This album, of course, contains very few progressive elements, even if a track like 'My Iron Lung' could be almost considered as a progressive track. This is just an excellent pop/rock album, maybe the best album of the year 1995. There is no weak songs in this album: rock tracks like "The Bends", "Bones" or "Just" are excellent. Ballads like "Street Spirit" or "High and Dry" are great songs as well. The best track of this album is certainly "My Iron Lung", with its change of rythms (like in "Paranoid Android" from the next album OK Computer)

This album deserves obviously more than 4 stars, but it is not a progressive album, so I cannot rate it 5 stars.

Report this review (#129705)
Posted Saturday, July 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Radiohead get some big hits!

Breaking the one hit wonder rumor, Radiohead releases this powerful album, although, in the prog scope, they're not quite there yet. Other Radiohead albums such as Ok Computer and Kid A can certainly claim to be more progressive, but this album definately is a high point in their career. After finally deciding to give this album a shot, I realized that I'd heard most of the songs before on local radio. This is for a reason, as most of the songs are very radio-fiendly and very memorable. All in all, this is definately a song-based album.

There area couple of increadible rock songs here, but not too much prog content. THE BENDS and JUST are two great songs that deserve all the attention they get, and FAKE PLASTIC TREES and (NICE DREAM) are also great, if a bit slower. A couple songs that do present the prog road the band would eventually take are MY IRON LUNG and STREET SPIRIT, while the rest are good, but not entirely worth mentioning. What would have made this album a lot more respectable and accessable (albiet, they hadn't taken this road yet, and still haven't really) for the prog community would have been some longer songs, but the content and instumentation definately give off a good post-prog sound.

This album's rating is hard to come up with, but ultimately it recieves 3 stars as a prog album, it's got a lot of good songs on it, and it's a good "song" album, but prog is usually about the "album" albums. As a rock album it recieves 4.5 stars, it's unmissable as a 90s rock album, definately. Later albums would definately prove Radiohead as the prog band they are, this was simply the first step.

Report this review (#138361)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars In a recent poll by Channel 4 television (UK) "OK!Computer" was rated as the greatest album of all time. I however, in my humblest of opinions, disagree. In fact I don't even think that it's the best Radiohead album- I think "The Bends" is. Everything about this album is fantastic, whether it be Yorke's powerful vocals or the bands ever changing rhythms an melodies, every track on this album is memorable. The best track on the album is "My Iron Lung", an electric guitar driven song which starts fairly deliecately but eventually bursts in to a heavy rock 'n roll jam before making a graceful return back to delicacy. Another excellent song on the album is "Just (Do It Yourself)", another great guitar songs with both electric and acoustic guitar making it a true classic, not to mention the intelligent and sympathetic drum beat played by Phil Selway, as on almost every Radiohead song. The final song that stands out as a true classic on this album is the beautiful "Fake Plastic Trees", which is a incredibly composed tearjerker, and a fan favourite amongst Radiohead fanatics. This album isn't just a must have for prog fans- it's a must have for music fans everywhere. 5 stars.
Report this review (#146950)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Great alternative rock album!

This is not really progressive... Maybe a bit psychedelic, with some experimental fragments. In my humble opinión this is just a great british rock album, far from the later Radiohead's experiments, more accesible and really enjoyable. Al the tracks here are special, and the album is really catchy... Once you have realised the amount of details of the rich production, it's difficult to scape to the enchant of this stunning work.

I think it's a bit unfair to take the centre of the group only in Thom Yorke... Ok, he's the leader. But I think that part of the magic this album has, is because the marvellous guitar work that Greenwood and O'Brian develope... The are the real protagonist of this release, more than the (just good...) Thom Yorke's vocals. I really enjoy the guitar drawnings in My Iron Lung, Black star... This is the fact I enjoy the most!

The rest of the musicians, just make their work... But this album is far from trying to demonstrate some extra muscial habilities. They only wrote great songs, and they played and recorded them in the most proper and correct way. It's relaxing... Nothing spectacular, just the songwriting... The most important aspect of good music!

Best tracks: really difficult... All the songs are good, there's no flaws in this album! Both the mellow and rockier tracks really kick ass! A compact album.

Conclusion: this is not progressive music in my opinion, so I can't give a high rating to this album on this site... But this is a real great album of alternative rock, so if you are interested in hearing one of the best albums ever made from this style in England, you should try The Bends. A really recommended work.

My personal rating: ****

ProgArchives rating: ***

Report this review (#165116)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This second "Radiohead" album is quite different then their debut.

While "Pablo Honey" was a solid rocking album almost all the way through, "The Bends" holds lots of quiet songs which balance nicely the more upbeat ones, but do not really move me (Bullet Proof, Street Spirit). I have the same feeling with bands like "Muse" or "Placebo". I prefer their killer rocking ones than their mellow production.

No wonder that "Bones" is by far my fave. This powerful melody combined to a huge wall of sound is absolutely outstanding and I'm not asking for anything else. A great song indeed. In the genre, I consider the opening track "Planet Telex" as another of the best songs featured on "The Bends". Fine and noisy backing band in con junction with a very nice vocal aprt from Thom.

But almost half of the songs are on the soft side, even if "Nice Dream" is a dual song featuring both sides of their music. Almost mellowish, it speeds up wonderfully for a short time; just to give the listener a good kick. The energetic "My Iron Lung" is also built on the same principle, even if the wild parts are longer and therefore is most appealing to me.

I am not really found of this album but it is ending on the same rating than "Pablo". Thanks to the (lack of) rating possibilities. "The Blend" is only average IMO. Five out of ten, upgraded to three stars thanks to a few bunch of good rock songs (like "Just" for instance). But the complaining Sulk is a bit too much of a sloppy thing.

Don't look around for too much progressiveness on this album. Your quest might be vain.

Report this review (#171286)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The Bends is the second album from british rock band Radiohead. I used to be a fan of Radiohead in the nineties after I was introduced to the band via OK Computer and The Bends was at the time a really good album IMO. I can´t say I listen to much Radiohead today, but OK Computer does get a spin or two once every other year or so, but it´s been a long time since I listened to The Bends. I was very positive when I started listening to The Bends as I remember it as being good but I must say that my view on The Bends has changed a bit after listening to it again after all these years.

The music is fairly simple vers chorus rock music. It´s very melancholic and everything evolves around Thom Yorke´s fragile and very distinct vocals. There are no weak tracks on The Bends but on the other hand nothing really sticks out maybe besides the first song Planet Telex which I have always enjoyed. In other words this is a very average british rock album from the nineties. It´s obvious to hear that Radiohead inspired legions of other british bands with this music though and they should be credited for that. Unfortunately that doesn´t make the music any more exciting to me.

The musicianship is solid and the production is pretty good.

Radiohead doesn´t hit my personal taste with The Bends and I´ll rate it 2 stars and will be looking forward to listening and reviewing OK Computer next time. I just hope I won´t be as disappointed as I was after listening to The Bends again.

Report this review (#174970)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If prog to you means symphonic 70's acts like Yes of Close To The Edge or Genesis's Supper's Ready, don't turn this page, it's nothing for you. For Radiohead's second album, the 1995 longplay Bends is nothing like that. Yet it is very prog - although quite deceptively - and leads the way into a new era of prog music. We just have to admit that the prog of the 90's wasn't what the prog of the 70's used to be.

Bends opens with two tunes that are somewhat misleading, because they rock out. After that the quintet turns itself towards some most beautiful ballads there are, namely High And Dry, Fake Plastic Trees and (Nice Dream) and manage to squeeze a rocker like Bones somewhere in between. What makes these simple tunes prog - I mean, there are three chords only in High And Dry? I can't explain, maybe it's the love for the detail in the production, or that in a strange way a few of their tunes are through-composed, even though there are recognizable verses - the variants are based on other things than melody or harmony.

This wouldn't be the perfect rock album without a few hit single intakes as well, and tunes like the amazing video hit Just, a narrative progressive masterpiece with or without its music!, or My Iron Lung and Street Spirit (Fade Out), do their bit to make Bends into one of the most complete rock albums of all times, be it progressive or not.

The most intriguing thing with this album is that I can't tell you why it qualifies to the list of all-time prog-greats. It sounds like smart rock, yet there are new things to be found with every listening. It is a true masterpiece, which I believe will stand the test of time with ease.

Report this review (#195013)
Posted Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After a debut album that was still firmly rooted into early 90's alternative rock ranging from The Pixies and Nirvana over U2 to shoegazer brit pop, The Bends shows a band that has not entirely grown out of its initial influences yet but that still sounds very much like Radiohead and nothing else. It's something that always pleases my ears.

A second point speaking in favour of this album is the uniform quality of the material. There are no weak cuts here and plenty of variation, such as pop anthems like Fake Plastic Trees, a song with a definite Catherine Wheel flavour, one of the strongest 90's indie bands in my book. There are guitar rock gems like Bones and My Iron Lung that Hüsker Dü wouldn't be ashamed of. There are plenty of softer moments as well that show the atmospheric side of Radiohead. It's something they would improve at later on but Nice Dream and the gorgeous Street Spirit can already serve as accomplished examples of their reflective genius.

Musical proficiency is obviously not the focus in this style of music, all attention is on songwriting and on the poignant delivery of mr Yorke, but the band plays very adequately and creates excellently arranged pop songs that reach a good level of sophistication.

With the opening Planet Telex, the album has only one song that rings a prog bell here, but in the Crossover Prog field, this a certain 4 star album.

Report this review (#261831)
Posted Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars I would not consider myself as a massive Radiohead fan, but I recognise the importance of the band and their influence on modern music and prog. I have all their albums, and like each one to a degree, but can never pin their sound down to one particular style. Consequently any review I write on their albums is mainly about the music itself rather than how great it may or may not be. Each album seems to be different in approach and this album is perhaps their most pop oriented with dark overtones and very catchy melodies. 'The Bends' is a much celebrated Radiohead album that features some of their most recognisable material.

'Planet Telex' begins with a spacey effect and a fractured keyboard and guitar over crashing drums. Yorke's incongruous vocals break in with a strong melody sung with passion. The enigmatic song title is enhanced as we hear how "you can crush it". A definite successful album opener. One of the quintessential Radiohead tracks.

'The Bends'. Crashing guitars drive the track headlong and Yorke wails over top till the track changes gears into a quiet riff. "Where do we go from here.. the words are coming out all weird.... Baby's got the bends..." It rocks along and takes a few detours but never really moves completely away from the main beat and structure. The guitar rhythms are consistent and sharp as are the lead motifs.

'High and Dry' is acoustically driven and a melodic verse is sung, another accessible track that may appeal to the Porcupine Tree fan as the style is similar. There are hints of prog in the time signature but it is more subtle. "Don't leave me High, don't leave me dry..." Yorke pleads. This is a comfortable incarnation of Radiohead in comparison to the alienated tracks previous. The guitar solo is pleasant and does not threaten to break out of the mould. The verse chorus verse lead break verse chorus structure is not expected from this band but it stands out as a result.

'Fake Plastic Trees' is one of the recognisable Radiohead singles. There is a definite melody and an intriguing organ sound. The lyrics are psychedelic in a sense but as usual the theme centres on the loss of love and alienation in a lonely world. "Fake Plastic Love... I could float through the ceiling... and it wears me out, it wears me out, it wears me out, it wears me out..." It is not uplifting but thought provoking none the less.

'Bones' begins with a phased contorted guitar that twangs during the track giving an unsettling ambience. Once again Yorke's vocals enhance the atmospherics. The vocal performance is bitter but on this track he belts out these feelings rather than adopting the lazy style of quieter tracks. This may well be one of the heaviest tracks of the band. It delivers the goods and gets out quick.

'(Nice Dream)' is about sunshine dreams and lost love, or the search for happiness. The melody is catchy and easy to sing to, which is not relative to the material the band will produce on subsequent albums. The repeated line can get on the nerves but it captures the hypnotic style the band exudes. The track breaks into an angular guitar riff and one of the best heavy passages on the album. It is soon over and the acoustic guitar strums away over a wailing sound and soft howls and spiralling effects.

'Just' begins with a loud guitar riff. "Can't get the stink off, it's been hanging round for days..." Yorke warns us and sings of "Holy cow" and "forget my sympathy, hanging out at the 15th floor...." Is he musing on suicide? You be the judge. It is more upbeat and more accessible than other material. There is an interesting chaotic guitar line and some competent guitar strumming especially in the solo section which takes a series of twists and turns, although there is a definite melody that is maintained throughout. "You do it to Yourself, just you, you and no one else" Yorke sings, and we believe his sincerity. The guitar is the highlight though and there are many solos for a change. It is one of the most guitar heavy tracks from the group and a welcome change in this instance.

'My Iron Lung' features a catchy guitar hook that propels the track, till it fades and Yorke's soft vocals merge into the soundscape, almost like another instrument. The guitars pick up the melody, over a drone that is off kilter and strange. Then it crunches in to a rocker with an angular guitar and phased vocals, that are aggressive and powerful. It reprises back to the main melody but threatens to get louder. Then the aggressive style returns with a dirty sounding guitar. "If you're frightened you can be frightened..." then the bizarre lead break begins and takes the song off balance, almost an industrial feel is achieved. This is enough to scare the neighbours.

'Bullet Proof... I Wish I was'. A strange swirling effect, ghostly and creepy, is heard and Yorke sounds lost in thought. He is patient with his vocal delivery, not putting any emphasis or meaning into the almost lethargic delivery, but he knows how to croon in high falsetto. This is the type of track that has put Radiohead into the 'hard to categorise' basket. An angelic vocal style with dark ominous music.

'Black Star' fades in with a melodic verse from Yorke, very quiet and sleepy, the chorus builds to the type of style that would typify Muse, perhaps they were influenced. There are unusual time sigs on this particularly in the guitar passages that use 6/8 time sigs and others.

'Sulk'. A four chord guitar progression drives the intro and there is louder chorus that builds. Intriguing helicopter sounding guitar effects enhance the quality of the track. There are experimental tendencies but the Indie rock feel is still there, alternative rock but with a dark razer edge. 'Street Spirit (fade Out)' is lulling and compelling, Yorke's voice sounds a little like Muse singer but unmistakably Radiohead. 'Fade Out Again' is mesmirising with an excellent soft guitar motif that carries the song along on a crest of a wave of ethereal atmospherics. It feels melancholy as Radiohead can get but at the same time uplifting in structure. One of the highlights on the album.

"The Bends" album grows on you with each listen and seems to capture the essence of Radiohead, moments of dark reflective melancholy merging with a pop oriented style with some inspired vocal and guitar work. It is saturated with quiet, serene moments and sudden bursts of grumbling guitar. Like an angry wasp that searches for an elusive flower and gives up to go on a stinging spree, the music jolts from soft passages of beauty to aggressive flashes of anger. It is powerful and accessible, rather than conceptual and progressive, and the album paved the way for the prog masterwork of "OK Computer", that was difficult to understand but has stood the test of time, now hailed as a prog masterpiece. "The Bends" was the beginning of the greatness yet to come.

Report this review (#265269)
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The reason this isn't one of the highest-rated albums on this site is without a doubt because it isn't a prog-rock album and people can't come over to this site's top 100 albums, see this album here, and think, "These guys are idiots durr that album isn't even prog". True, but as long as this album has it's own page here, I have pretty much no choice but to give it five stars.

I would even say it's better than OK Computer. While OKC managed to create it's own atmosphere and paint a picture of it's own world with music, which in itself deserves a five star rating, I prefer this album because it touches on a much more emotional level and it's library of songs are so good that you could put "Creep" on this album and it would be by far the worst song on here. THAT's how good this is. Sure it's not prog, but I think the people here are versatile with their music enough to check this one out right now if they haven't already.

Report this review (#274835)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm totally agree with CinemaZebra. Less than 5 stars only for not being prog? Oh, god, we're in trouble here, in this page.

Really, one of those albums I can easly give the five black stars.

Excellent man, all of these tracks are hits for the radio. Not comercial, only hits, incredible hits with fantastic music and lyricis, with a band trying to forget the Pablo Honey and get more original with The Bends. Well... of course that with Ok Computer they climbed to the top, but The Bends was an obligation for the Ok Computer, and I'm gonna say this again: Every song is fantastic, every song is a hit.

5 stars...

Report this review (#276040)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another example of an album that is just so perfect in everyway and doesn't even seem like it was made by humans.

Every song is as memorable, each song has it's own characteristic and any of these songs could have been released as singles.

After their success with Pablo Honey (and the success with Creep), Radiohead composed a selection of more mature music with quite an interesting experimental side.

The result was this album, with some amazing hit singles, amazing chorus and each song an amazing listening experience. And why did they decide to go mental and just start yawning in their late 90's to now material, who knows, but I hope they can see sense and see what a great band they once where.

The first time I had contact with this album was when I leant it out of my local library on tape (I feel like a dinosaur). I then found it in a nick knack shop and got it for a pound. Now if I don't know what's a bargain, then that comes close I feel.

1. Planet Telex - An amazing space like atmosphere surrounds this song. Amazing chorus with an amazing vocal performance from Thom. Apparently this song was written when Thom was drunk.

2. The Bends - The riff that I use to check if my guitar is in tune. Amazing song with another soaring chorus and some weird lyrics.

3. High & Dry - The most pop like song on the album. Very catchy song. If you're wondering, the song is about Evil Kinevil.

4. Fake Plastic Trees - Very relaxing and soothing. Also a very beautiful composition with a lovely organ accompaniment.

5. Bones - The most alternative song on the album with another great chorus. I love the line, "I used to fly like Peter Pan, all the children flew when I touched their hands."

6. (Nice Dream) - The most beautiful song on the album in my opinion. There are quite eccentric moments in it though, which is still quite cool.

7. Just - Very catchy and amazing guitar work present. The video for this song is also really cool, very weird and quite trippy.

8. My Iron Lung - Very melodramatic with a weird chorus and a bridge. Great song with some great instrumentation

9. Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was - The weakest song on the album. I do love the calm atmosphere of the song.

10. Black Star - My favourite song on the album. I love this song so much, because it basically sums up everything I love about the 90's. The most prominent Radiohead song with vocal harmonies. Very powerful.

11. Sulk - I love the key change of the chorus at the end of the song. This song really shows of how much of a great singer Thom was.

12. Street Spirit (Fade Out) - An amazing way to end an amazing album. Reminds me of Massive Attack.

CONCLUSION: Perfection basically. Buy the first 3 Radiohead albums. Then avoid the rest.

Report this review (#279440)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars While Radiohead were still an album away from being labeled progressive, The Bends is nevertheless well worth checking out because it's one of the most interesting pop-rock records of 1995.

Pablo Honey tootled along nicely enough but nothing really gripped you emotionally and mentally all that much. Here several tracks pack a real whallop that gives the album the edge needed to earn a place in your collection, despite having little to no progressive influence.

The opening to Just is one of my favourite openings ever with the acoustic guitar strumming giving way to an incredibly exciting drum smack and then that ascending guitar riff that just goes on and on. Radiohead sure hadn't forgotten how to write a hit single. In fact they had two of them this time, with High And Dry also making it in the charts. High And Dry is a bit wishy-washy for me though, reminding me of the likes of Travis, and is not one of my favourites- it's just uneventful. It does showcase Yorke's improving vocals. I always thought Bones should've been released as a single- some really nice bass work from Colin and a great, twisted, crushing chorus.

But beneath the radio-ready commercial side Radiohead had, more serious and troubling songs lurked. Fake Plastic Trees not only features a near tear-inducing vocal performance and an incredible orchestra like build-up but possibly Yorke's best lyric ever. It's also about the last time he wrote a lyric that wasn't opaque. It seems after this he made a conscious decision to write lyrics that didn't have a direct meaning which has proved artistically interesting, but it makes me wonder if we've missed out on more songs with the direct emotional punch this one has. Nice Dream is incredibly beautiful- love the use of the backing vocals in this one.

The title track is another stormer, though its certainly one of the tracks Radiohead's detractors can use to argue that the band are miserabilists. Opener Planet Telex features great production with the way sounds wash in and out but its closer Street Spirit that really takes the cake- there was a time I almost couldn't listen to Street Spirit, it affected me that much. It seems to me to be an incredibly well executed cry of despair at all the lives in all the houses around you and how you'll never know anything about them and how they're all scrabbling for attention and recognition and the singer is just collapsing in sorrow at the sadness of the situation. Well maybe I got carried away there but it sure is a powerful song.

The album is not perfect however. I quite dislike My Iron Lung. The verse is dull and the heavy rock section that kicks in twice is just noisy and ugly. Sulk is alright but kind of plain. Black Star I quite like- with a little more hookage it might've made a good single too- but it just seems to be missing an X factor present on other songs.

All in all though, Radiohead had certainly improved on Pablo Honey. This record was memorable and wasn't overshadowed by a single song as that one was. They sounded more mature and more in control of their sound and Yorke in particular sounds more purposeful about what he's doing. But as much as I have enjoyed their two albums, we must now bid farewell to the pop rock Radiohead as we will never see them again.

Report this review (#280558)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I can definitely agree with the general consensus that this album is a major improvement over Pablo Honey; just how major of an improvement is another matter. This is very often regarded, by hardcore Radiohead fans and otherwise, as one of the best albums of the 90's, one of the best "guitar rock" albums ever and even one of the greatest albums of all time. No matter how many times I listen to this album, though, I just can't come around to that way of thinking. Half of the album sounds great to me, but the other half has never struck me as much more than okayish, and I don't think I'm going ever going to change my mind about that.

Indeed, as hard as I try, I cannot get excited about the two tracks after the album's opening (and superb) quartet, or about the four tracks between "Just" and the closing "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." I don't see what's so special about "Bones" (despite all of the guitar effects) or "Nice Dream" (a low key number with an okayish melody but which I keep feeling should have more going for it than it does), and slogging through the four tracks after Just is something I never really enjoy. "My Iron Lung" has a pretty nice quiet guitar line in the beginning and throughout, but the other song elements, particularly the noisy section about half way through, don't make me very happy. "Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was" has some neat effects like what I'd expect from early Pink Floyd, but as pleasant as the song is, it largely passes me by each time (it's probably the best of the album's weaker half, anyway). "Black Star" is the kind of song I could easily see somebody loving, as it has all sorts of strong anthemic elements, but it's never moved me much at all, and the melody isn't that enjoyable to me. And as for "Sulk," well, the only thing I ever remember about it is that I want to start singing "Fireplace" by R.E.M. when I hear the opening measures. So on the whole, these tracks just evoke a strong "meh" and shrug of my shoulders, and that's not something that I can square with the notion of an all-time great album.

The other six tracks are terrific, though, and if the rest had been able to keep pace with these tracks, I'd definitely rate this much higher. Pretty much the only thing I can say bad about them is that they don't mean much to me, even if I can see how they could mean a lot to other people. This isn't to say I don't feel anything while listening to them, but rather that those feelings don't stick around very long past the end of the song/album, and that I don't really feel like they're an essential part of my musical diet.

Otherwise, they're pretty great on the whole. If I had to pick one as noticeably weaker than the others, I'd probably go with the title track, but it's still got some very nice guitar lines and a good enough delivery from Thom. "Planet Telex," which comes before it, is much better, from the effect-laden introduction to the good vocal melody to the various neat guitar textures, ESPECIALLY in the "Everything is broken ..." section. The two ballads (sort of) that come after the title track are also fantastic. "High and Dry" has a marvelous vocal melody in both the verses and the chorus, and "Fake Plastic Trees," as clear an imitation of classic U2 it might be, combines some great moving chord sequences with some really tender singing once again from Thom.

My two favorites, though, are "Just" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." I couldn't care less about the lyrical message in "Just," but the way Thom sings "you do it to yourself, you do" is one of the strongest hooks on the album, and the band's approach to heaviness in the guitar parts (which are like a mad scientist's take on typical grunge lines, and I mean that in a good way) makes the song one that I keep coming back to. And finally, "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" features a fascinating rolling guitar line and an interesting layering of arrangements, but more importantly to me it has a very strong atmosphere of darkness that the band hadn't really shown to this point. Obviously the band probably didn't intend this at the time, but this is the track the most strongly points the way to the band's future; a dark, depressing world and sound that far transcends conventional angst. For this reason, I actually think it sounds a little out of place on the album, but it's better for it.

I really think that part of this album's appeal lies in the fact that it follows the classic Who's Next formula: start and end strong, and stuff all the weaker songs into the middle. Unfortunately, the weaker songs really bug me, and the better songs aren't spectacular enough to cover up that impression, so the album's rating suffers. Still, it's quite a nice album, and it's worth picking up.

Report this review (#285987)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars Radiohead is a band that always been on my mind even tough I am not their greatest fan in the world. Radiohead always been a band that tried harder and harder to go on, forward, forget the past or at least try.

With their first album Pablo Honey (1993), the project of what would be this second record was there, but still not mature enough.

In The Bends (1995) they reached a perfect combination between dreamy songs soaked in emotion. Maybe it's just because this album is dear to me in a high level. It's that kind of music that's almost impossible to explain why.

There's no weak track on the album, but I would put 'The Bends', the big hit 'Fake Plastic Trees', my favorite 'Just', 'Black Star' and 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' as main tracks, which means, half of the album.

Excellent.

Report this review (#288271)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great mainstream rock album

Yes, this is a lot more of a mainstream rock album then prog. In fact, there is no prog whatsoever here. Still, that won't stop me from giving this album a positive review.

A description of the music: We start off with the echoing keyboard of the sad, yet bouncy "Planet Telex." A pretty boring track, but not that bad. The title track is a rocker, and a really good one at that. The guitar has some good riffs and has a catchy beat that is shown throughout the album. "High and Dry" is a depressing track with a slow drum beat and a sad acoustic riff. "Fake Plastic Trees" is another sad track with some incredibly odd lyrics and is an acoustic based song. "Bones" is another rocker with pretty odd guitar effects. "(Nice Dream)" has a great acoustic melody in the intro and other great melodies throughout and is another very slow, solemn track. It is just plain beautiful. "Just" is the heaviest track on the album and bears some grunge resemblance. A very fun track with some great great guitar riffs. "My Iron Lung" contains an odd clean riff and a pretty dissonant chorus, but is overall an amazing track. "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was" is a pretty depressing track, which I find is pretty boring. "Black Star" has a riff that bears alot of resemblence to the one in the title track, and is more of a sad rocker. "Sulk" is a very boring and forgettable track with an Indie-rock style. "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is a very sad song which has a brilliant acoustic riff, but is pretty repetitive.

PROS:

Melodies: This album contains many memorable melodies, especially in "(Nice Dream)" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)."

Catchyness: This album contains many catchy and memorable beats like most mainstream/pop rock.

Lyrics: Lots of the lyrics on this album are just plain odd (especially in "Fake Plastic Trees"), but the oddness is very effective.

CONS:

Mainstream: Lots of prog fans don't like mainstream rock, so I'd warn you to stay away if you really hate it. I don't even like mainstream rock, but Radiohead is a band that really delivers for me.

No prog: Here is a warning: if you're looking for prog, I wouldn't suggest this album.

Vocals: The vocals at times are very whiny and annoying in this album.

Song ratings: Planet Telex: 7/10 The Bends: 8.5/10 High And Dry: 8/10 Fake Plastic Trees: 9/10 Bones: 7/10 (Nice Dream): 10/10 Just: 9.5/10 My Iron Lung: 9/10 Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was: 6.5/10 Black Star: 8/10 Sulk: 2/10 Street Spirit (Fade Out): 8.5/10

My rating: 4 stars. Not a perfect album, but a strong one and probably my favourite from Radiohead.

Report this review (#291644)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars It's time to unveil another one of my huge album favorites and this time it happens to be no other than those beloved alternative rockers from U.K. called Radiohead!

I started listening to Radiohead right around 1998 when OK Computer was pretty much hailed as the ultimate '90s album. Personally, I didn't find that album experience as profound as the critics made it out to be, but before giving up completely on the band I decided to give The Bends a chance. I have to say that all the hype really started to make sense after this first profound experience and I followed it shortly up with an in-depth deeper griding of OK Computer.

One could easily dismiss The Bends for being a product of its time, but the transition that Radiohead had undergone since Pablo Honey is a very impressive one. Plus, this is easily Radiohead's most consistent recording that doesn't rely on conceptual atmosphere and instead fills in that gap with quality material from beginning to the very end. It might not be the progressive album that our community was looking for back in 1995 but, outside the retro prog bands, this is as close that you would get to the first signs of art music finally getting a wider acknowledgment from the mainstream.

It might be a bold move, but would like to compare Radiohead's development to that of the Beatles. Both band's took the audience by storm with their early releases and then moved on to make the music that they really felt like creating. I see The Bends as Radiohead's Revolver which definitely foreshadowed that a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was just around the corner. Just like the Beatles subtile experiments on Revolver, Radiohead did a few of their own here on The Bends. What we get is a bunch of completely different song experiences that work well both on their own and as a part of the collective album experience.

I'll skip the detailed track description merely because of my very personal affection for this album that would most probably sound more like a fanboy rant if I try pushing it any further. Let me just sum it up by stating that The Bends is a masterpiece of an album that should not be overlooked by fans of creative rock music!

***** star songs: Planet Telex (4:18) The Bends (4:06) Fake Plastic Trees (4:50) Nice Dream (3:53) Just (3:54) Black Star (4:07) Street Spirit (Fade Out) (4:12)

**** star songs: High And Dry (4:17) Bones (3:08) My Iron Lung (4:36) Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was (3:28) Sulk (3:42)

Report this review (#305256)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My baby's got the bends .... again

"The Bends" is the second album of alternative rock band Radiohead, after the mildly successful "Pablo Honey". "The Bends" hit the music stores in 1995, Grunge had died with Kurt Cobain and Brit-pop started to grow with Oasis album "What's the story morning glory?" and Blur album "Parklife", the band had to decide whether they wanted to continue the grunge sound of "Pablo Honey" or start a more post-Britpop sound. They have decided to do both.

Planet Telex (8/10) - An intro to an album which can stand on its own. It shows the new more melodic style of the album by removing the 3-guitarist line-up and featuring more keyboard based sound. This song prepares listeners for the album ahead.

The Bends (9/10) - Back to the roots with this one. The bends is more energetic than the intro with distorted guitars reminding us of Radioheads grunge background.

High and Dry (8/10) - Soothing and relaxing. The vocals provided by Thom Yorke fit perfectly in this easy mostly-acoustic ballad-like song as well as showing the more easier and acoustic side of Radiohead.

Fake Plastic Trees (10/10) - This is simply beautiful. The most relaxing song on the album and definitely a peak. The songs meaning is debated (even though imo its quite obvious as materialism plays a great role in the song). The song has a deeper meaning, which is a first for the band. with great lyrics and an easy acoustic sound, this song can be enjoyed by any music lover. Bones (7/10) - The second most grunge-like song on the album. Easy intro but then met with heavy distorted guitar halfway through the song and with harsher vocals.

(Nice Dream) (8/10) - Ever noticed the brackets? I didn't. (Nice Dream) is another soothing song in the album with a very dreamlike sound. Easy acoustic song with a haunting melody in the background provided by a guitar,keyboard and a violin. But the dream turns darker as the guitar starts screeching creating a great atmosphere. Another peak in the album.

Just (10/10) - My personal favorite. A heavy song with a perfect combination of acoustic and electric with a Riff that has been inspired by Nirvanas "Smells like teen spirit", this song can pack quite a punch! Most certainly another peak in the album.

My Iron Lung (9/10) - And yet another heavy song but this one is really heavy. This song concentrates on powerful guitar riffs and harsh vocals. An adrenaline pumping song. Not to worry our nerves will be calmed by the next song.

Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was (8/10) - Ethereal. A very calming song. The song basically consists of easily strummed chords and arpeggios, with soft vocals this song is almost a lullaby

Black Star (9/10) - A side dish of pop-rock. This was the first song I heard from "The Bends" and because of it I went out to find myself the album (After 3 months of searching I actually found it). A song with a great melody and my second favorite song after "Just".

Sulk (6/10) - In my opinion the weakest track on the album. A soft track with a bit of guitar meddling in the end. A good song yet it gives me the feeling that it lacks a certain something.

Street Spirit (Fade out) (9/10) - A perfect way to end a great album which will create a legacy. A depressive sounding song which sends a chill up my spine every time I listen to it. A great song and a great Outro.

I really love this album, it is an excellent mixture of acoustic and electric sounds in combination with a carefully recorded performance. Simply great songs.

Although I am a great Radiohead fan, this album is the only one which I consider to deserve more than 3*, in fact it deserves 5!

Report this review (#408506)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#409007)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Radiohead were starting to dip their toes into the pond of creativity here, but for all intents and purposes, this really was just another alt-rock grungy album with a familiar mid-90s vibe that had a few decent ideas thrown in the mix. It's not a bad album at all; in fact it has some very cool individual tunes, but I find it a chore to sit through this entire album...man does it start to drag like an amorphous mass of gelatinous substance after awhile.

To say this album was just derivative of the mid nineties rock without being an influence on other bands would be absolutely dead wrong. Of course, the bands I've heard that were clearly influenced by this album are in no way progressive. Coldplay's entire discography for their first few albums is basically numerous variations based entirely around the song "High And Dry". It wasn't until their fourth album when Coldplay decided to step out of their comfort zone by combining that Radiohead song with The Joshua Tree era U2. Creativity on a popsicle stick. Another band is Snow Patrol, who's success is entirely owed to Fake Plastic Trees.

So, the album is influential for better or worse, but what makes it stand on its own as a hugely popular album that is more revered than a vast majority of albums that came out in 1995? Well, there are some catchy melodic tunes besides the two I already mentioned, including the rockin' "Just" and the highly regarded "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", which I also consider quite stellar (despite hearing it so often over the years). (Nice Dream) has a bit of a cool space vibe to it, although that style would be improved upon for their following release. The album as a whole generally bounces along between mellow and loud tunes with tight musicianship but some banal chord progressions (the title track is utterly awful in this regard) and a foot firmly planted in the rather sluggish brand of grunge and alt-rock.

The Bends is generally a 'safe' album; if a group of people are coming over to hang at your place for a small party, it's perfect background music that still carries a bit of "the guy hosting this party is pretty cool" air, but Radiohead would completely change things up for the better on their next effort.

Report this review (#437412)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Moving beyond the grunge influences of Pablo Honey, Radiohead's The Bends - much like Pulp's discography, or Suede's Dog Man Star - offered a refreshingly different approach to British indie rock than the chripy and (to my ears) rather superficial Britpop approach of the likes of Blur and Oasis. But on top of that, it also sees the band maturing as songwriters and begin moving in the progressive direction which would lead to OK Computer. Pocket symphonies such as Fake Plastic Trees reveal a sneaking fascination for sweeping soundscapes and the use of the rock band as a mini-orchestra, whilst songs like My Iron Lung reveal a tendency towards wild, uncontrollable mood swings; both approaches would reach their apex on OK Computer tracks such as Paranoid Android, but as well as being a blueprint for that approach The Bends is a compelling and entertaining album in its own right.
Report this review (#619821)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A non-prog masterpiece with very well written songs, this is Radiohead's best step. They became the imaginative rock band we will all remember for, and this album opened many doors for many alternative rock bands. Not only this album is full of emotion (prog bands, take notes), but it is very consistent (except for the three minute R.E.M-ish Bones). From the anthemic (The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees, Black Star, Fade Out), to the heavier (Just, My Iron Lung, Planet Telex) and the softer (High And Dry, Nice Dream, Bullet Proof, Sulk), they were better than any rock band around because of their innovative thoughts. So if you want to expand your horizons and you listened to other Radiohead albums, choose this one.
Report this review (#917738)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The decade of the 90s was one of slow recovery where progressive music was trying to find some kind of solid footing in the "biz" again. Considering what the MTV virus (the scourge that ran rampant through the 80s) did to it it's no wonder. Prog was like a star quarterback who'd suffered a severe blow to the head attempting to get his bearings once more in order to simply complete a pass in the flat. I myself considered our kind of music dead as King Tut. I spent most of my time collecting remastered CDs of giants like Yes, Genesis, ELP and Jethro Tull instead of exploring for any signs of life. (PA wasn't around to assist.) Since my kiddos were turning into teenagers at the time I was more concerned about what Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse, Slipknot and the like were doing to their innocent souls. To an extent I tolerated the stuff they were getting into (In the 60s my parents worried about what Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa were doing to my little but absorbent brain, as well) but I monitored how those acts' antics might be influencing their behavior and moral compasses nonetheless. I just didn't trust those guys. What I'm attempting to communicate is that I didn't need to pay too much attention to groups like Radiohead who appeared tame as newborn kittens in comparison. In fact, other than their indomitable "Creep" single, I didn't start listening to their music until a few years ago. I reviewed their debut album back in February (not a bad record at all) and finally gave "The Bends" several spins to see where their aural art went after their initial success ran its course.

They start with "Planet Telex." Following a cosmic intro a strong groove develops under a pulsating, tremolo-enhanced guitar. A great mixture of distortion and clarity makes this song alluring while remaining compositionally cohesive and comprehensive from top to bottom. It's a cool tune. The title cut is next and I'm surprised to hear a live "in concert" rendition of a new song on a sophomore album. It has a noticeable brittle grunge quality that's a little unnerving to my senses and too derivative of what Nirvana had been producing earlier in the decade. "High and Dry" is another story altogether. A much quieter tune, it's very welcome at this juncture. It has an intimate atmosphere that displays a different, more mature side of the band. "Fake Plastic Trees" is the high water mark, though. It's a somber ballad that exudes a palpable aroma of melancholy without becoming droll or morose. Thom Yorke's vocal is soft but quite expressive and the traditional organ is a nice touch. "Bones" possesses a straightforward rock beat that drives the number efficiently. However, I find the repetitive chord progression a bit unimaginative. "Nice Dream" is a return to the acoustic guitar-based approach that I've grown to prefer from these boys. I like the fluid feel of the track and the contrasting urgency as portrayed by Jonny Greenwood's electric guitar on the short bridge segment.

"Just" is one of those songs that's almost impossible to categorize. It does exemplify how different Radiohead was from so many other entities competing with them for airtime and exposure in the mid-90s. It's a clever and intriguing congealing of contemporary moods and defiant, punkish attitudes. "My Iron Lung" is interesting, too. Their melding of a wide variety of guitar textures adds an aura of mystery to this cut in that you never know when they're going to explode and descend into a noisy, angst-riddled movement. Keeps you on the edge of your recliner. "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was" is a highlight. It's another sad number but it's augmented by a cavernous soundscape that wraps Thom's voice in a soft cloud that hovers over the track. "Black Star" features a fade-in that culminates in a wall of hard-strummed, chiming chords before settling into a somewhat predictable verse/chorus pattern. "Sulk" is better. Its 6/4 time signature provides a decent change of pace in the overall evolution of the album as it plays through. (Unfortunately that's becoming a lost art.) Yorke's emotional singing adds passion and Jonny's stringent guitar work gives it sharp and threatening dynamics. They also wisely leave you wanting more with "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." I sincerely appreciate the brutal honesty in the songwriting and the un-gimmicky presentation of the final product. It's well-structured and intense without going overboard.

Released in March of 1995, "The Bends" established that Radiohead was here to stay, not some flash in the pan. It really went over big in the UK, reaching #4, while in the US it peaked at a modest #88 on the charts. While it didn't spawn any huge hits on the scale of what "Creep" was years earlier, the album was incredibly influential and played a major role in resuscitating progressive rock and making the genre viable once more. I'm a huge fan of Porcupine Tree and I can definitely hear many of the musical strains I found in "The Bends" surfacing in Wilson's records like "Signify" and especially in "Stupid Dream." I'm getting a better bead on why so many revere this group but I'm still not sold on the one that came after this one. With "The Bends" Radiohead had adopted Nirvana's raucous mien and, while they didn't tone it down all that much, they did take it in a more progressive direction and for that all proggers should be thankful. 3.8 stars.

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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars In preparing this review I listened to The Bends several times. For some people, this would be a blissful experience; for me, it sort of felt like a chore. I have a lot of respect for Radiohead's elevation of artistic rock music in the popular arena; I hear the creative textures, emotional singing, and melancholic beauty... and just have a hard time caring.

Ultimately, the nicest thing I can say about The Bends is that I wouldn't mind if it were playing in the background, but I'd never seek it out. At its low points, this album sounds like noisy bathos, at it's best, it's average sounding art rock. I understand that this is subjective, because what's average to me is not average to the "normal" listener, but then again I don't think the majority of people reading this review are "normal" listeners, either. There isn't enough depth here beyond the numerous guitar effects for me to enjoy, and more than enough mopey yelling and toe-tapping alt-pop.

The Bends just doesn't do it for me; maybe if I were 16 years old again with my back to the wall with early '90's junk alternative, but not now. That being said, I do enjoy some of the quite songs, like "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees", and "Nice Dream".

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#1418574)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Radiohead are one of my most favorite bands, but I do not consider them prog, actually its impossible to call or restrict them to any one genre(that's not how Thom works) so I won't judge this album by prog standards but rather by musical standards The Bends is one of the best second albums out there, its sad, melancholic and hauntingly beautiful, its a great step towards a legendary career after their debut Pablo Honey, Jonny greenwood's guitar roars in this album and Thom gives a great vocal performance as usual, this is the best album to start if you wanna get into Radiohead 1. Planet Telex- Great album opener, perfectly sets the mood for the album, totally in the spirit of 90's lyrically a bit sad and angst filled, a perfect performance by all band members. 8.5/10 2. The Bends- Another great guitar driven tracks, I don't know what to say the words are coming out all weird (pun intended) cause this is so amazing. Its about how Thom felt when suddenly a lot of people became his 'friends' after the success of the band, 8.5/10 3. High and Dry- Great acoustic guitar at the start of the album, Thom gives one of his best vocal performances ever, for me its about how someone leaves you all alone and you are left there all alone, but yet feeling sad not for yourself but for the person who left you and is alone too.....someone you love more than yourself, how the best thing you ever had goes away. 10/10 4. Fake Plastic Trees- The title suggests the meaning, when someone you love isn't real but fake, one of the most touching songs on the album, and Thom's falsetto is at the best during the end, it is also about how you desperately want to be with someone but can't because they hate you for no reasons 'If I could be who you wanted all the time' 10/10 5.Bones- a straight in your face rocker, I don't quite get the meaning but it is surely angst filled, not one of my favorites on the album yet good enough to be 7/10 6. Nice Dream- This is one of my favorites RH moments, beautiful guitars, drums, vocals, lyrics, just everything so perfect just like a nice dream, you know what I mean right? if you don't listen this song right now P.S great backing vocals and guitar in the end 7.Just- what do I say about this song? the lyrics say it all "you do it to yourself, you do and that what really hurts you do it to yourself, just you you and no one else"8.5/10 8. My iron lung- this song was released in the selftitled E.P but yet it remains one of the greatest song on this album, one of the best known rh songs, with lovely guitars and drums and tends to make a joke on creep 10/10 9.Bulletproof... I wish I was- quite sad, you know when someone hurts you so much that all you wish for is something which can ease the pain? when you cant take it anymore and wanna be bulletproof, its a tear jerker 10/10 10. Black Star- Hidden gem actually in the bends, quite underrated, to me it represents a period when you keep fighting with your lovedone which leads to break up and then after all this you can't forget them and tend to blame it on everything around, it eats you from inside, you can't sleep, you always see their face everywhere, its a lovely track 10/10 11. Sulk- quite a sarcastic song and funny for me( reminds me of someone sulking at their mistake) you know people like that, they'll hurt you and sulk sometimes thinking its their fault, but yet they are scared of saying sorry, anyway great track 8.5/10 12. Street Spirit- the most depressing song ever, even Thom used to cry singing it, because it shows helplessness, sadness and all other problems, their songs are like a dark tunnel but eventually there is light and the song is not always sad, but this one has got no positive thing whatsoever, quite moving and a great closing track from a great band's album
Report this review (#1452252)
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Radiohead saw some major success with their first full album "Pablo Honey" and the major hit "Creep". However, they weren't about to release another album like that one, and they didn't want to be a "One Hit Wonder" band, which there were plenty of them out there. So, they re-worked their sound in order to retain interest. At first, their next album "The Bends" didn't do so well and dropped quickly off the charts. However, they opened for bands like "R.E.M" and this helped them regain their popularity, and over the years, this album has gotten the publicity and fame that it deserved.

For this album, Radiohead moved away from the grungy sound of "Pablo Honey" and even away from the alt-pop music of their previous incarnations "On a Friday" and "Manic Hedgehog". Their lyrics got more cryptic, their music became harder to define as they became more experimental, they started using more keyboards and the guitar more atmospheric and harsh. This resulted in their next step towards a more progressive sound, and you can hear the steps taken throughout this album towards that style. Many have even considered "The Bends" along with "OK Computer" as some of the best albums ever recorded.

"Planet Telex" opens the album and it has the distinction of being the only song not written before recording of the album began. It was written after a night of drinking and Thom Yorke made the vocal track while lying on the floor. The song has a much more electronic sound than most of the other songs on the album, and as such, is a foreshadowing of the direction the band would take on the next album "OK Computer". The overall sound has a warbling feeling to it. Even with the electronic processing, the music is heavy and dark and driven by guitars and a recurring piano riff.

The next track is the title track "The Bends". It is another heavy song about becoming famous and how everyone wants to be your friend, but will they be with you when you come out on the other side. This one is a bit louder than the previous one overall. "High and Dry" was the first single of the album. It is driven by a strummed riff and more calm than the previous 2 tracks. It is also written in more of a standard format. Even so, it is a nice track that grows on you easily.

"Fake Plastic Trees" is one of Radiohead's most famous tracks, and rightfully so. It is a beautiful track that even Yorke admitted that it made him cry. It is a statement against over-capitalism and how it can make everything colorless and lifeless and everyone wants to become plastic. I am sure most everyone has heard this one, but if you haven't, then you need to, it's absolutely beautiful and heartfelt, one of my all time favorite songs.

"Bones" begins with a processed echoing guitar and soon gets moving with a heavy bass line. This song is about the fear of aging. The verses are soft with a guitar-heavy chorus and Yorke starts to use his falsetto voice more effectively at this point. "(Nice Dream)" is a softer sound with strummed guitars and a lilting rhythm. There is a nice violin added to instrumental foundation. The middle section is a very exciting change of pace for the song as a wild guitar riff is introduced and things get more chaotic, then it returns to the original softness again.

"Just" is another great song about narcissism, or as Thom explains, a certain friend. It starts as a single guitar strum and then explodes into a somewhat noisy riff and immediately calms for the verse, while it is loud during the chorus. The returning ascending guitar riff keeps returning and ends up finishing the song off as it keeps ascending until it holds a screeching note and then falls apart to the single strumming riff again. This one is another favorite.

"My Iron Lung" refers to and is about the song "Creep" that basically kept the band alive before this album. They had that fear of being a One Hit Wonder. This has a great processed guitar riff that has a cool shaky feel to it. The song is also one of those that sticks with you. The noisy sections in the song allude to the loud sections in "Creep". "(I Wish I Was) Bulletproof" has a more experimental vibe to it and also acts to foreshadow the direction of the band. Yorke's vocals are on the mumbly side, but it really works well for this pensive track. There is a lot more electronic effects throughout this song, but it still retains it's melodic side, so it's not a complete turn to the experimental side yet. Thom's vocals as he sustains the word "bulletproof" are simply beautiful.

"Black Star" reminds me more of a track from "Pablo Honey", but it does have a better usage of dynamics. The lyrics deal with relationship problems and the things you can blame the problems on. "Sulk" was written in response to massacre at Hungerford, Berkshire, England where 17 people were shot. The original lyrics were changed by Yorke so that people wouldn't think it had to do with Kurt Cobain's death around the time the album was released. The album ends fittingly with one of Radiohead's darkest songs "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". Yorke considers it very dark and the band usually plays it at the end of their set list in concert because of it's darkness. However, it is still a beautiful and lush song.

So, "The Bends" might not have much to lend itself to being progressive, but it was a huge step in that direction. As far as the Prog Archives site goes, I have to at least consider it an excellent album, meaning it deserves at least 4 stars, but in a non- progressive world, it is easily a 5 star album. It is above the bar set for most alternative music in that it is more heartfelt and unique than most, and as such, it sets the bar high for an amazing and talented band.

Report this review (#2046918)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars After an irregular debut, Radiohead took a huge qualitative leap in The Bends. Several factors contributed to this leap: a better producer (John Leckie, engineered by the band's future producer, Nigel Godrich), a more consistent repertoire, a better use of their influences (from U2's arena rock to Jeff Buckley's vocal style and sound dynamics) ... and, as Tom Breihan pointed out in an article about this album for Stereogum, the confidence level: "The Bends is an album from a band fully in command of its gifts, one who understands exactly what it wants to do". The first track, "Planet Telex", has a touch of psychedelia combined with a vigorous sound. The following three are all classic: the poweful title track (which contains lyrics like "I wish it was the sixties (...) I wish that something could happen"), the beautiful ballad "High and Dry" and the melancholic crescendo of "Fake Plastic Trees" ("She looks like the real thing / She tastes like the real thing / My fake plastic love"). The core of The Bends contains some not so well-known songs which are almost as melodically captivating as their hits: the rockers "Bones" and "Sulk" and the delicates "(Nice Dream)" and "Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was". The record's final stretch is spectacular: the exciting "Just" (perhaps one of the band's most iconic songs, thanks in part to the music video), the sarcastic "My Iron Lung" (a response to the success of "Creep") , the addictive chorus of "Black Star" (their first Godrich-produced track) and the gloomy "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". The Bends is Radiohead's most hit-filled album, although it took a year (and 5 singles, including the My Iron Lung EP) for one of its songs reach on the UK Top 10 ("Street Spirit" went straight to #5 in January 1996) and the US Top 100 ("High and Dry" peaked at #78 in April '96). The recognition was gradual, but definitive: the years go by and this CD continues to be considered Radiohead's first great album.
Report this review (#2272882)
Posted Thursday, October 24, 2019 | Review Permalink

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