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

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Black Bonzo - Sound of the Apolcalypse – The Laser’s Edge is the label that introduced the world to Landberk and White Willow, and proprietor Ken Golden was instrumental in bringing Änglagård and Anekdoten to the attention of prog...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues