Airbag/How Am I Driving? review by Radiohead

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  • Released: Apr 21, 1998
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (12 votes)
Radiohead: Airbag/How Am I Driving?
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Sound — 10
Filled with heavily-distorted guitars and several faster-paced songs, this album is very reminiscent of The Bends. However, it has some elements of OK Computer in its mix, such as the use of multiple keyboards, synthesized sounds, and electronic experimentation. The combination is an extraordinary sound that needs headphones for true enjoyment. A quick overview of the songs themselves: Airbag is one of the best Radiohead tracks ever recorded, capturing the sheer joy of being alive better than anything I have ever heard. Pearly is mysterious. Its lyrics allow the listener to reach one's own conclusions as to its meaning, but the sound itself is amazing. The guitar piece, despite its relative simplicity, is excellent. Meeting in the Aisle is one of the better rock instrumentals I have heard. A familiar Radiohead brooding sound, despite no vocals. A Reminder is touching, an great song about a reminder from the past to wake up and start caring about life again. Polyethylene opens with a quiet, muddled acoustic bit, before exploding into a thundering rocker. Melatonin is ominous, brooding, yet reassuring at the same time. Weird how Radiohead does that. Palo Alto is powerful rocker, with heavily distorted guitar you can't help but want to play along with. A great song, with great sound.

Lyrics — 9
Thom's voice is astonishing, as well, and his lyrics combine mystery and strong messages. The only caveat is that Thom is sometimes difficult to understand, as in the first portion of Polyethylene. The songs Airbag, A Reminder, and Palo Alto are relatively clear, while the other songs have much more fog surrounding their meaning. All in all, excellent lyrics.

Overall Impression — 10
With songs ranging from rockers to mellow keyboard ballads and instrumentals, this mini-album is a remarkable transition from The Bends to OK Computer. This is perhaps one of the best EP's ever to be released, and could stand alone as a solid Radiohead album. Similar to some of Radiohead's other work, many of the songs are about the fact that society is all messed up. Simply said, Radiohead has done it again, and has produced a masterpiece despite having only seven songs.

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