After the grand success of OK Computer, Radiohead were touted as the “saviors” of rock music, as the band that had taken up the baton from Floyd and the Beatles into the next century for making intelligent rock music and breaking MTV pop trends. Yeah, right. Why do the media take every good, pure thing and mess it up? Radiohead is a good, intelligent band with a penchant in 1997 for writing good guitar rock songs, but they were not saviors because, firstly rock music does not need to be “saved”, secondly, only a generation fed on a steady diet of MTV and VH1 would be overly impressed with OK Computer, which, mind you, is a good album, a nice album, but it is not a legendary album, is not a paradigm changing piece of music. Alternative rock saw lots of more awesome albums in the 90’s, but hey, the mainstream couldn’t be bothered to see beyond Paranoid Android. Fuck you, mainstream. In any case, you should know that Kid A inaugurated the second period in the musical evolution of Radiohead.
However, if Kid A had got the same praise which got handed down to its predecessor, I would have agreed, to most of it anyway. That it got a mixed reaction shows how stupid people can be, and I am including professional music writers in on this one. Kid A saw Radiohead abandoning rock music’s totally understandable obsession with guitar riffs and licks and moving towards layers, textures and beats. This is called post-rock for a reason. No, it is not only electronic trance music. Yes, it incorporates elements of electronica heavily, as well as ambient music (think Brian Eno), jazz, etc, not to mention elements of soundtrack music from 50’s British pictures, which sound (purposely) dated.
But that is not the reason that I dote on this album so much. It is because Radiohead perfected the art of conveying ideas, mood, concepts, hell, images, through sound alone. Take the title track for a second here. Notice the underlying piano motif which puts me in the mind of a children’s juke box. Layered on top of the piano are the vocals(Thom Yorke), distorted beyond recognition, sounding like a child and an adult at the same time. I won’t mention my interpretation of the music, because I fully understand that that is not the purpose. The purpose is not to convey a certain ideology or thought process. The purpose is to ensure that everybody gets to take away some sort of interpretation or imagery after listening to this. Kid A isn’t a path to anywhere; it’s an open field, vast and unrestricted.
Recommended Tracks – All of ‘em.