Exposé Online banner

Radiohead — Kid A
(Capitol CDP 7243 5 27753 2 3, 2000, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01

Kid A Cover artOK Computer showed a rock band reaching beyond the conventions of commercial music, yet somehow managing to remain commercial, selling millions of albums and impressing a lot of non-mainstream listeners with the sophistication of the songcraft. With Kid A, the boys from Oxford take another step away from the middle of the road, and find their commercial appeal apparently still intact. There are ten tracks on the disc, and not one of them could really be called a song in a conventional sense. The melodies meander over soundscapes more than chords, guitars are barely recognizable, rhythms skitter around rather than propelling the music. Just as a person’s life usually doesn’t fit into a story arc (problem-struggle-resolution), the songs of Kid A don’t usually follow a musical arc. It’s more like the soundtrack to a journey, where you pass from one realm into another, but problems once presented aren’t necessarily resolved by the time you enter another realm. Taken as a whole, there is a sort of progression, from the quiet and slightly morose “Everything in Its Place” to the driving-nowhere chaos of “The National Anthem” to the uneasy peace of “Motion Picture Soundtrack.” Trumpet, sax, and trombone blow crazily throughout much of “The National Anthem” over the top of an unswerving one-chord bass line. This is pop? There’s a lot of shimmering Eno-esque ambiance and simple electric piano, a lot of highly processed sounds, a nifty 5/4 on “Morning Bell,” and many other interesting touches with which the record insinuates itself into the brain. What does it mean? I have no idea. There are no printed lyrics (and no credits beyond the song titles) and Yorke’s voice isn’t always clearly intelligible. But that ambiguity leads me to all sorts of impressionistic speculation, and for that alone, the disc is worthwhile.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 21, 2000 releases

Related artist(s): Radiohead

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

John Lees' Barclay James Harvest - Legacy Live at the Shelpherd's Bush Empire 2006 – The 2006 resurrection of Woolly Wolstenholme’s Maestoso gestated into a full on BJH reunion tour once guitarist John Lees got on board the rock and roll bandwagon. Picking a representative set list...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues