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Radiohead - Kid A CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.96 | 868 ratings

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4 stars Radiohead - Kid A

I will have to say, and quite defensively, that this is definitely a progressive masterpiece, or at least something quite close to a masterpiece. You heard me: progressive. Everything about this album is pristine, and it qualifies--without a doubt--as Radiohead's best to date. The overall performances, including the production value the album boasts (and with merit), and even the unique, melancholic tone, is extremely well-done, and the album deserves every bit of attention it has garnered--it is simply magnificent.

Some may find that this is a hard album to love, and this is something I'd maybe agree with; not because it is "difficult" or "slow-paced" per se, but because it is so.fresh. It is likely something you've heard bits of before in other bands, but it's also very likely that those bands were directly influenced by this one, so it's a tough call on originality (though there will always be those who claim that Radiohead do little but throw rock into their "knock-off" Aphex Twin "cover songs" and call it an album..). But forget about the naysayers, and allow yourself this treat--this experience--and please do approach with your mind open. It's not that the album is challenging really, it is that those who approach the album seem to be challenging at times, as if they do not want to enjoy it

As a side note: I will always recommend that one should build into Kid A, starting with The Bends, then maybe OK Computer (although this is my least favorite of theirs barring the mediocre debut): then tackle Kid A--one should know by that point whether or not they enjoy the band methinks, and this also gives more of an in-depth look at the developmental proceedings that built up to this album. Either way, I sincerely doubt very many will be really disappointed with this album--this just seems nearly impossible to me!

Now the music:

The album is graced with tons of subtle (and almost trademark at times) electronic noises, all of which are used tastefully in order to help create the sublime tone of the album (one of its most unique factors). The album opener, Everything In Its Right Place holds this electronic torch with pride with its glossy synth and cataclysmic vocal amenities--notice, if you want development, how the band go from nearly completely guitar-driven songs at the conclusion of OK Computer to this. No drums. No guitars.But keyboards in 5/4, loads of layered effects, and (of course) good 'ol crooning Thom Yorke. One hears this blissful cacophony and he knows this is undoubtedly one of the best album openers he's ever heard. The album continues in this vein with the follow-up "Kid A", which is even more electronically based (with a very inventive beat and some interesting interplay).by now one can't help but to wonder what he's gotten himself into, but he knows he likes it. And then.shape shift one:

The rebellious The National Anthem which is driven completely by a great, thumping bass line and heavily distorted undertones and effects (especially on Yorke's vocals). The track eventually climaxes into a crazy horn-dominated freak-out session that'll really move the aurals around in the brain. Then, another shape shift: How to Disappear Completely. This track shows the clearest hint thus far that this is still Radiohead--there is a guitar present at least.and soaring, ballad-like vocals (Think: "Fake Plastic Trees" from The Bends). It is gorgeous and is a common favorite among those who do not even like the band that much--a definite highlight of the album. Treefingers is hardly worth mentioning, as it's an ambient track that neither stands out, nor spoils the album. It's just there, letting off of the previous track, sitting, and waiting for the next.

Optimistic is probably the first song on here that really shouts Hey it's Radiohead! with any great amount of clarity. It's a great song with the quirky lyrics You can try the best you can / If you try the best you can / The best you can is good enough. It rocks, and has a very neat organ layer that really shows the band's talent for sounds (as showcased throughout this entire album--nothing sounds silly, although much of it is very odd and experimental in nature). Following "Optimistic" is In Limbo. This track is, really, the definition of "sublime". I'm not kidding. Go get a dictionary, it will be re-forms and shakes and withers into many different forms as it tries to find a definite time and place to be in--much like the singular character the album follows, but I won't spoil that one for you. Following it is what may be the best track on the album, and what is certainly the climax of it in all respects. Idioteque is an amazing, albeit quite electronic, track that is up tempo, full of energy, and filled to the brim with emotion--just listen to the guy bellow! It is very convincing, and very effective.

The second to last track, Morning Bell is a strange, yet delightful song that follows an odd 5/4 pattern and an eerie, broken-chord pattern on synth. It showcases Thom's voice (but what Radiohead song doesn't?) and proves just as wonderful as anything prior to it. But then.

The final track, Motion Picture Soundtrack, though it is the longest song on the album, is in actuality short and sweet. It is very pretty and serene--almost tense even--and ends the melancholic album on a bittersweet, yet hopeful note, with the extremely well-delivered and ominous line: "I will see you / In the next life.". But wait! There's more! Keep listening through the silence to hear a nice pseudo-choir chorale-esque outro that will likely bring on chills, and because it is a major chord--it works as its own little remedy, lifting all of the melancholy away, and really giving way to death in a very hopeful and serene manner.

Radiohead is an amazing and overlooked (well, perhaps not...) modern prog act. Give this album a shot no matter who you are. It is a wonderful album and deserves to be in every prog fans' collection, regardless or age or preference.

9.0 on my scale (Treefingers is rather useless, truthfully) but easily 4 Stars on this scale. It isn't quite masterly enough to justify a full-on masterpiece rating, though. Certainly one of the definitive albums of this generation, and of progressive music, in my opinion. So, give it a try!

Figglesnout | 4/5 |


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