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

2020-07-22
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

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Gilmour - On an Island – Longtime Pink Floyd Guitarist Dave Gilmour is living the perfect rock star dream. Having completed the unlikely Live 8 reunion and sidestepped label pressure to restart the band, the guitarist...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues