Radiohead – Amnesiac

August 29, 2007

This one is a quickie. I wrote a review for this one a long time ago. It’s still in the archives. I decided I didn’t like it so I redid it.

While Radiohead’s 2000 album Kid A was already a shocking experience, nothing could have possible prepared fans for what would proceed the album in only a year, the vastly obscure Amnesiac. Written as a parallels to one another, the two albums fit together like pieces of an obscure and disturbing, yet ultimately ingenious puzzle. Kid A had it’s fair share of uplifting moments throughout the paranoia and gloom, but Amnesiac pulled no punches, and searched for an answer in the same vein as Kid A. Both albums share some specific themes, as evidenced by the two separate versions of the song Morning Bell, but both have very different personalities. It seems as if both started in the first place, a single point of birth, and spiraled off spontaneously in opposite directions. Kid A made the climb ad infinitum, and Amnesiac dug into deeper ground and swam into darker water. The album is largely a disturbing search for some kind of resolution to life’s angst and internal pain, and the trip it takes to the answer is nothing short of astounding. But let’s not kid ourselves, the chances that any album after Kid A would have been an easy listen is zero to none. That’s not to say that this album is completely unaccessible. You have heard weirder music, but sometimes it feels like the emotional bomb is being dropped track after track, and the only thing that seems traditional are time signatures which aren’t even always present. Upon first listen, the record will mostly likely sound distant and unapproachable, but once the listeners ears decide to take the wheel and drive the music home, a beautiful flower blooms and things start to make sense. Each song is hand crafted in this way, to reap rewards over time, and only time will do this work. Most of the songs, such as Knives Out and Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors meander with no real resolution, perhaps representing some kind of ongoing search. There is some accessible material here, namely I Might Be Wrong, an electronic groove which builds itself fantastically into catchy layers which build and then destroy themselves to a wonderful effect. Many Radiohead fans also cite Pyramid Song as the bands best song. But simple lack of accessibility leads many to believe that the album is at fault despite how much someone can enjoy it in the end. Radiohead know that how much one wants to make a record that can tear down doors won’t necessarily make them deliver. While at first it may seem like a collection of songs that simply weren’t strong enough for Kid A, Amnesiac actually has more structure than it’s predecessor, and is just as enthralling when one finally comes to understand it’s ins and outs. While this is easily Radiohead’s most difficult, jarring, and wildly experimental album, it is also the most engaging, rewarding, and to some, the best.

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