The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At number 67 is Kid A by the band Radiohead. It was their 4th studio album and was released in October 2000. It became the first Radiohead release to debut at number 1 in the United States.
I know a few Radiohead songs, but only own their “best of”. They are a favourite of my brother and so I have been looking forward to hearing this album.
We start with Everything in Its Right Place, an electronic piece based on a single note drone and despite it being quite cold and experimental, it’s a fascinating and atmosphere opener. The title track that follows is very odd and takes the sound into an even more avant-garde direction. At this point, I can’t say that anything with structure and melody has been heard, but the next track The National Anthem attempts a normal structure but then throws it in the air and becomes a modern jazz cacophony as it lands. It’s challenging and stimulating stuff!
The music evolves with some acoustic guitar on How to Disappear Completely with what can be described as the first “song” on the album. It’s dreamy, but Treefingers takes it to a high level of dreaminess. I would be surprised if this hasn’t featured in a Professor Brian Cox series with planets exploding and comets whizzing by.
Optimistic, In Limbo and Idioteque continue theme of hiding a tune behind (obviously not) random sounds and musical approaches. At times it can be a little draining, but perhaps the best thing to do is to let the music wash over you a bit. The only truly “traditional” song on the album I think is Morning Bell which has few simple ideas wrapped up in odd production. The closer, Motion Picture Soundtrack was a little disappointing as it’s just a bit dull.
Kid A has The Beatles White Album all over it, well at least the parts of the White Album where they were experimental and almost using the studio as an instrument.
It definitely needs repeated listening as I can’t say that it’s really for me… just yet anyway. It’s either a 6 or an 8, I just cant decide at this moment in time. Overall, the music is thought-provoking and varied, but with a thread running through it of electronic jazz. I am surprised however that it features in the top 100, but you need something odd like this to shake the list up sometimes.
My rating: 6/10
Listen to the album here (first 10 tracks on the list).
See the Top 100 here.