12 years ago today Radiohead released their 4th studio album Kid A. The album is held in high regard and ridiculed in pretty much equal measure.
Following what is surely the bands best album Ok Computer the band rested upon no laurels and rewrote their whole sound. It was a brave move that commands respect.
Kid A features a much more electronic backdrop and the band veer into territory occupied by much lesser known artists and indeed labels such as Boards Of Canada and Warp.
Everything In It’s Right Place has the sound of electronic dreams from the off. The tone is mellow and warm. Thom Yorke sounds accessible yet distant. The lyrics paint a surreal image. The vocals are stretched looped and backtracked. Whilst the track is hardly unlistenable – it sounds like nothing the band had released previously.
Kid A sees the band remove that startling epic sound featured on Ok Computer even more. Vocals now sound like a computer. The vibe is lullaby, intimate, yet mysterious.
The National Anthem has a more rock sound than any track thus far on Kid A. The song sounds alive and brews like an out of control automated band. A locked, looped bass repeats as the song ambles into free fall jazz. The final half a minute of the song sounds like total new territory for the group.
How To Disappear Completely sees the album float into genial areas. Soft yet earnestly deep the song glides around with held off threat and love throughout. It is a beautiful piece of music that evokes classical music more the ‘misery indie’ that the band had previously been tagged with.
Treefingers floats yet more. No beats are present in the piece and the album pulls effortlessly into even more experimental areas.
Optimistic and the guitar is back. Sounding both like a band that can hardly play and a band totally in control it rattles along with near processional qualities.
In Limbo blends the dreamy state of Kid A with soft but definite band backing. It is one of the least accesible songs on the album and is indeed quite challenging as it sits in no clear musical area.
Idioteque is cited by many that ‘get’ the album as it’s best song. Electronic beats pulse with stark raw clatters. Thom Yorke elevates the piece with a superb vocal that gives the track an extra dimension. Idioteque threatens to spill over bust just about refrains itself from doing so. As one listens – one kind of eggs the sound on as the urge to move listening to it presents itself in a very unique manner.
Morning Bell features a prominent anti-beat. The shuffle of the song again is topped with an outstanding vocal performance. Snaking guitar slowly emerges giving the vibe of an electronic ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. The overall sound is that of Radiohead just about holding the track down giving it an odd free but suffocated vibe.
Motion Picture Soundtrack closes Kid A with yet more distant vibes. Sounding old yet new this low key album closer serves its purpose well.
Kid A is an album that is warm yet dangerous throughout. It is the sound of a huge band putting music first and pushing new boundaries. “Post Rock” or whatever the band do deserve a lot of credit for an album that many may find a difficult listen. It works as an album whole yet the songs take on new dimensions when performed live. Far from destroying their reputation Kid A is an album that makes Radiohead the band they are right now – and a mighty fine band they are at that…