Airbag/How Am I Driving? review by Radiohead

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Apr 21, 1998
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (12 votes)
Radiohead: Airbag/How Am I Driving?

Sound — 9
Released in 1998 in America, this is clearly noted on the front cover. "This mini album is aimed at the USA." The cover art seems like an extension of that found on the OK Computer album. However, this EP is not an extension of OK Computer, rather serving as a transition from The Bends to OK Computer for their American audience. Many of the songs still sound like material from The Bends (save for "Melatonin" and maybe "Meeting In The Aisle") just with some computerized sounds tastefully inserted. Some experiments like "Meeting In The Aisle" are a glimpse of things to come.

Even with the presence of programmed bleeps and processed effects, guitars are still heavy on this EP. Songs like "Pearly*" and "Palo Alto" are undeniable rockers, and are great examples of Jonny Greenwood's unconventional playing and Ed O'Brien's even more effects-laden guitar.

Lyrics — 10
Songs like "Pearly*" are just downright perplexing, whilst the short but strange "Melatonin" is quite clear. However, the lyrics are no where near as cryptic as they would come to be on albums such as Kid A. I quite like the writing on this album, the excitement that comes with "Palo Alto" ("I throw myself into my work/I'm too lazy, I've been kidding myself for so long." I can relate) and the beauty of "A Reminder".

Overall Impression — 10
A collection of B-sides from the European and Japanese singles from OK Computer along with it's first track, "Airbag", this EP was highly sought after until they reissued it recently. Rightfully so, this EP stands well on it's own. This is evidenced by the fact that it went up against full albums in the 1999 Grammys for Best Alternative Music Performance. Overall it's probably the best EP I've ever heard (along with The Pixies's Come on Pilgrim) and it serves as a good initiation to OK Computer.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have this EP. Even though it was aimed at the u.s. I was able to find it in Ireland. It's brilliant, Pearly is possibly the best b-side I've ever heard.
    I have this EP too. Pretty brilliant for an EP. I absolutely love Polyethylene, Pt. 1 & 2. One of their best songs, IMO. My Iron Lung is also a good EP.