Something very strange is going on over at Collapse Board. Albums are being reviewed in pictures, and the same album is being reviewed in multiple contexts. If I was a sensible, level-headed lass, I’d just assume that Everett True has turned nuttier than a sack of squirrels and patiently wait for him to go back to writing 10,000 words on why he hates Radiohead. Unluckily for you, I’ve decided instead that this is the way to go, and will now re-review some of my favourite recordings through the medium of cats.
Last Radiohead-themed post for a while!
Planet Telex – The Bends – 1995
Radiohead played their first gig in 1991, reportedly to “five friends”.
The following September, my schoolfriends and I had blagged our way into the BBC Radio Sussex studio, and entered a competition by holding up the written answer to the DJ booth glass. We left, minutes later, clutching our prize tickets to see The Frank and Walters, whose support act – Radiohead – we’d never heard of. We ignored the buggers, of course.
Then about halfway through, Thom yelled, “F*** YOU!” – I’ll still never know if it was part of the song. It got our attention, and gradually the room fell quiet and we watched the rest of the gig in rapt silence. The applause at the end was deafening. They’re the only band to appear twice in my all-time top 10 list of gigs.
If everybody else was jumping off a cliff, would you? Yes, yes, but this live-to-air thing is so compelling because you capture the very first moments as they happen! So this is me listening to King of Limbs for the very first time, updating in real time, as it happens.
Well, this is different. I mean, even for Radiohead. I’ve been listening to them for 19 years and they’ve managed to surprise me yet again. It’s off-beat – uncomfortable, but the vocals are smooth and balance it. It’s very jazzy. Once it settles into its itchy, uneasy groove, it’s actually quite pleasant. People talk about Radiohead being great innovators, but they’re not. They are just another of those “difficult” experimental bands that normally come from Brooklyn – Zs or whoever – but they’ve got a much better sense of song structure than almost any other band and are particularly adept at making the unlistenable sound ear-friendly. There’s shades of modern classical in this – layers upon layers of melody, brass, strings – maybe it’s all electronic; impossible to tell these days. What I can tell from even half of the first song is that I’m going to like this a lot more than Kid A. It’s the pop music of a future genre rather than the noodlings of a band with no proper songs to sing. Continue reading
You can’t say that Bends fans won’t like this. The Bends was great because it understood rock structures; its rhythms; its power; its hooks. Kid A was weak because the songs were insubstantial and meandering. You couldn’t remember the songs as you were hearing them, with the sole and notable exception of the superior Idioteque.
So, what’s Lotus Flower? It’s immediate – a funky, insistent groove that wriggles under your skin with the raw immediacy of one of Rihanna’s better songs. Toes and fingers tap unconsciously. Thom’s voice dances around without grating or cloying – it’s unfussy, unselfconscious.