Radiohead – Amnesiac – Review


Amnesiac (Capitol)
by Lex Marburger

OK, this is a tough one. Not because the album is difficult, which it is, but rather that Amnesiac is a re-telling of Kid A, so they haven’t broken much ground. Much in the way that Ill Communication was more problematical than Check Your Head, Radiohead has done great work, but we all seem to have wanted them to move on. Like, “alright, you’ve played with texture, you’ve gotten your hands messy in the whole ambient thing, you really like Eno, OK… Now let’s get going already. By the way, where’re your guitars?” But no, Radiohead wants to stick around these here parts a while longer and tool around a bit.

Here’s something to notice: All the guys in the band are credited, so they all have had input. Whether it’s electronic noodle rhythms, keyboard washes, or a sequencer set on infinite loop, everyone in the band’s happy. So it’s not like the guitarist is getting all pouty. Hell, it was probably his idea. Y’all know how bad it would be to try and write another OK Computer, right? Sigh. It’s another case of the artist expanding beyond the audience. Catch up, people! Anyhow, about the album. It’s a dense re-telling of Kid A, as everyone and their mom has said. Unfortunately, not too many people have said what the hell Kid A was about. So here it is, in a nutshell: Kid A was an experiment in rhythm and noise, but on the softer, more electronic side. Imagine Sonic Youth on valium and computers. No, really. Amnesiac, then, is distilled knowledge (or outtakes, depending on your level of cynicism). It plays some of the tricks Kid A did (backwards loops, heavy bass and rhythm tracks, Yorke’s crooning) but has refined them to be slightly (that is, and I repeat, slightly) more pop oriented. Check it out – they keep on with the odd time signatures, but have gotten so good at them you can’t even tell, until you try to follow the beat (the video has these lights bouncing around underwater, anyway, the single is – get this – a jazz number, in 7/4 time! I think.). It’s actually easier to listen to Amnesiac than Kid A. For one, it’s shorter. There are a few “re-worked” (covers, remixes, I don’t know what the fuck to call them) songs, so you actually get the feeling of slight familiarity. And everyone likes the feeling of familiarity, right? Anyway, there are gonna be people who love it, people who hate it, and people who think that they just wanna hear what comes out next, not just some unreleased tracks. Hey! Guess what? Radiohead is just like Nine Inch Nails!