First, a story: it was my junior, maybe senior year in high school, I can’t really recall. I was spending the evening at a friend’s house, and we ended up outside listening to music. The music of choice was Radiohead, specifically their 2000 album titled “Kid A.” I had only really ‘dabbled’ in Radiohead, an English alternative rock group, and was never a huge fan or advocate of the band. This night changed my perspective on the group in a radical way.
One beer led to another and soon it was rather dark out. No matter, the music never got trite. The next sequence of events is hard for me to explain: they happened in such rapid succession and perfect harmony that it was spellbinding. As we sat around the table, under an awning, mind you, the wind began to whip into a frenzy, branches shaking. Then the rain came; not just a light rain, but a downpour of torrential proportions. As the song ended I got up to choose what song was next. With a crack of thunder, literally, and lightning, my iPod shuffled to my favorite track on Kid A, a song aptly titled, Everything In Its Right Place. It was as if everything had come to a perfect existence: nature and music and friendship all peacefully intertwined. It might sound a bit overstated, but it truly was a baffling and humbling experience.
Now that I’ve gotten my history with Kid A out of the way, on to the actual album itself. It really is just that, an album. This is no collection of singles or chart-worthy material. Rather, each song serves a purpose as a piece of the collective whole. There’s Idioteque, a song that finds lead-man Thom Yorke crooning over a melodic drone of high-hat and synth beats. Optimistic is probably the closest semblance of a catchy tune, lead by a heavy guitar riff and inspirational interplay between the band. But then there’s Treefingers, a rambling drone of electronic harps and chimes that clocks in at 3:30. It all combines to create what amounts to be a breathtaking piece of art, a collection of influences, techniques, and ideas that foster something new and revolutionary.
In my belief, Radiohead is the band of our generation. The Beatles were a band that defined their generation; they used new technology, transformed old genres into new ones, and generally re-defined what a band meant. In much the same way, Radiohead has come to exemplify our generation: they improve with every new album, experiment with new technology, and redefine the way we market music (they let you pick the price, look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I might have been a little brief on the musical aspect of the review, but it was only to prove a point. Pick Kid A up if you haven’t already. Then proceed to buy all of their other albums.