Radiohead Kid A (Capitol)
Kid A (Capitol)
Reviewed by Kate X Messer, Fri., Oct. 27, 2000
Kid A (Capitol)"I've lost my way," howls Thom Yorke in "In Limbo," exactly where many loyal Radiohead-heads may find themselves -- especially if they were expecting anything akin to the guitar-driven anthems which captained the band's first three records. Even 1997's alienation dissertation OK Computer delivered plenty of bombastic assertiveness amidst the angst, vagaries, and possible Philip K. Dick references. At first spin, the new disc, however, could pass for the Blair Witch 2 soundtrack were it scored by ambience-in-their-pants French guys Air and the studio was too cheap to hire the Passengers. But come second or twelfth listen, Kid A begins to make perfect sense, and really, anything does, if you think about it long enough. Apparently, Radiohead was none too thrilled with the demands wrought by the success of their last disc. Kid A could be a response to that. Like those tough required courses the first year in college, this new turn, swollen with droning keyboard cycles and hauntingly distorted vocals, may be the thresher that weeds out the chaff from the true fans. But it'd be unwise to try to mind-read the cryptic codes of Yorke and pals. Whether reaction or evolution, one thing's for sure: Radiohead is outgrowing its own skin and is itching to bust out -- the sort of Hulky maturity leap that your 12-year-old bro might've gone through when he turned coat on Styxian prog-pop in favor of something more "deep" like, er, Pink Floyd. While it's safe to say that fans shouldn't expect to find any "Paranoid Android"s here, they can expect a pocketful of the band's almost-patented comforting referents and disquieting contradictions. "Optimistic," undeniably the most upbeat number, is grounded with Adam Clayton/Larry Mullen Jr.-y bottoms and an oddly cozy, oft-recurring guitar ascendant that sounds oddly like Paul McCartney's "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." The rest of the record dips into lilting dissonance, overtly synthesized, confoundingly loopy, heart-wrenching loveliness, revealing gorgeous textures and layering at every sampled beat. According to RH fan pages, the name "Kid A" refers to the human equivalent of Dolly, the sheep that became the world's first clone. The album Kid A is no carbon copy, rather very much its own damn thing.