Radiohead, Pablo Honey

Ryan Dombal

By Ryan Dombal

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Pablo Honey


Nearly 20 years removed from Pablo Honey's 1993 release, it's funny to think that the long Radiohead odyssey started with such a conventional ode to American indie. Oscillating between acoustic love songs inspired by R.E.M. and Pixies-esque grunge rockers, the album is a product of youth, the band readily revealing their restless 20-something mindset. And while there's no indication of the genre-defying pillars to come, Pablo Honey does show flashes of the band's way with a hook (a talent they would soon be trying to undermine at every turn). Of course, the most famous chorus was "Creep"'s, their first and still-biggest U.S. hit. The band may treat the song like an embarrassing high school picture now but, without it, there's reason to believe this band's story would be a lot shorter.

A product of youth

Bouncing between a choir-boy wail and a Johnny Rotten snarl, Thom Yorke had yet to figure out how to abstract his emotions, so Pablo Honey has him at his most vulnerable and personal. On "Thinking About You," he "plays with" himself while pining for a starlet, and he clumsily references Jim Morrison on "Anyone Can Play Guitar." And, with "Creep," he voices a slacker anthem that sums up the sardonic grunge era with such succinctness it almost reads as parody. "I'm a weirdo/ What the hell am I doing here?" wails Yorke. As Radiohead continued to expand their fan base as they explored less immediate instrumentation and structure, that question continued to be perfectly apt.