Radiohead

Kid A (Capitol Records)

You've already bought this record, and undoubtedly think it's brilliant. At least, that's what you tell anyone who asks, and you probably sort of believe it. But admit it, if this didn't say "Radiohead" on the cover, you'd be desperately searching for your receipt. This is not a case of the band's throwing a curve when everyone was expecting the fastball -- they've left the field entirely, decided to start a new game and won't let anyone watch. But, before I go any further with this, please understand that I wanted to like this record; I wanted to love it, to sit with my headphones on, smiling at every new discovery. I wanted to be just like everyone else, spilling tears on the keyboard as I wrote about the First Great Album of the 21st Century.

This, however, isn't it, and it isn't worth exploring anymore. I listened to it a few times, found the good song(s) -- "How to Disappear Completely," maybe "Optimistic" -- and barely endured the rest. My girlfriend summed it up best as "Motion Picture Soundtrack" began: "Can we please listen to anything else? Because this is putting me in a really bad mood." (And no, she didn't mean Thom Yorke's poor-me lyrics were bumming her out. That would mean she could actually hear them. Or that there was anything to hear.) Forget what you've read and what you pretend to believe -- this is not a great record. It's a grating one.

That said, there are some intriguing sounds/ideas here, but most of them are little more than B-side-quality experiments, dot-dot-dash excursions into mechanical melodies. Only, you know, without the melodies. This is what happens when a rock band plays with electronics: It all sounds about as decipherable as the instructions that came with whatever machinery is being used on Kid A. Honestly, I'd rather listen to Johnny Greenwood tune his guitar for an hour or so, because at least then I'd be hearing him -- or anyone, for that matter -- play guitar. If Yorke and company really want to disappear completely, they'll keep releasing records like this.

 
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