Radiohead, Amnesiac

Ryan Dombal

By Ryan Dombal

on 05.18.11 in Reviews


Proving Kid A wasn’t just a one-off experiment

Released less than a year after Kid A, Amnesiac was made during the same fertile recording period that birthed its predecessor. Yet it's hardly a bunch of also-rans and B-sides. Instead, Amnesiac is at once more traditional and more experimental than Kid A. For every "Knives Out" — a relatively straightforward track that would sound at home on OK Computer or even The Bends — there's something like "Hunting Bears," a two-minute guitar-based instrumental that comes off like Neil Young soloing over Boards of Canada ambient washes, or "Like Spinning Plates," which seems to unfurl its proto-dubstep bizarreness in reverse. Meanwhile, "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" is essentially a remix of the Kid A track "Morning Bell"; the redux showed how Radiohead had adopted more of a producer's mindset to their songs, which were now just skeletons that could be built up in myriad different ways and styles rather than just fitting into three-chord, verse-chorus-verse orthodoxy. Amnesiac also has Yorke feeling more directly antagonistic than on the lyrically obtuse Kid A. Songs like the sultry "Dollars & Cents" and the billowing "You and Whose Army?" come off like taunts at a unnamed oppressors. More than anything else, Amnesiac showed that Kid A wasn't a one-off experiment — Radiohead were seriously committed to convulsing the known order in every way they could manage.