Sound — 10
Radiohead is the musical chameleon, and this album proves to be as changing as OK Computer was to Kid A. The album was released free over the internet, to huge publicity, and there is a reason for this and it isn't the fact that Radiohead is generous (ex. eighty dollar box-set) it's the fact that Radiohead understands music isn't worth paying for anymore. With that non-sense out of the way, let me say this album is absolutely perfect. I hate to be filled with over-praise, but over four listens, there isn't a single weak track on this album. There isn't one. Even Kid A has Treefingers, which is a throw-away track. This album is absolutely, perfect. I will go in-depth anyway, for the sake of the readers. The first track "15 Step" starts almost too familiar, sampled loops, and clicks and boops, but this track is almost like anti-opener. This song is the exact opposite of the rest of the cd, almost as if to say, "We are not this anymore, now watch as we transform before your eyes." They do just that, and it happens during the song when the bass and the haunting guitar mesh into the looped beat. This track starts the album with a slow ferocity, a slow, gyrating ferocious beat. Bodysnatchers begins with a long forgotten sound on Radiohead album's; a prominent fuzzy guitar. It is reminiscent of The Bends, and there isn't a synth or looped beat in sight. It is a straight rock track, with a mighty bass, and little throwback guitar fills. The track progresses to a thundering climax think "Electioneering" meets "There There." Nude is the Pyramid Song of the cd, a slow, crawl of a jazz track. More inspiration from the Amnesiac closer and Hail to the Thief closer, in the swing era. It's almost like it's the darker, ghostly version of those tracks. If "A Wolf at the Door" is the evil brother, and "Life in a Glasshouse" is the dancing sister, this track is the Mellon collie sibling looking forward to a hopeful and bright day. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi reminds me if Brian Eno had a three-way with U2 and Coldplay. The guitar track on this is absolutely mesmerizing, and the drum beat is the upbeat and hopeful ingredient Radiohead has been lacking since Kid A. This track also has some of the strangest lyrics of the album and Radiohead's career. The climax of the song is heartbreaking. All I Need is the next track and begins slowly; it begins with a fuzzed bass, ricocheting across the bouncing drum beat. Thom sings over this and slow moving synths in the background, almost invisible. The chorus comes with some atmospheric string arrangements by Greenwood, and suddenly becomes one of the most complete and beautiful pieces Radiohead has done. Soaring strings and synths fly over Thom's voice and it slowly becomes a blissful romantic plea, for true and unconditional love with the addition of Pianos and a crashing drum beat. Easily one of the most powerful moments in Radiohead history. Faust Arp is one of the few acoustic tracks on the album. Starting with a quick plucked acoustic with some string arrangements by Greenwood. Thom Yorke almost gasping for breath as he tries to pull out every wood in this quick paced quiet turn-around from the last track's epic climax. Reckoner begins with a reverby drum, and some of the best guitar work Greenwood's ever done. Thom's falsetto sets the song off and it doesn't truly begin until the bass kicks in full blast and puts the song all together. It suddenly stops face first in the exact middle, and it turns itself around. Strings come in, and accompany Thom's voice singing his little British heart out, when the full band comes back in, the emotion is felt, and it seems Thom is finally starting to understand his own voice as an instrument. House of Cards, a kooky southern tinged song. I can't put my finger on this song, but it works pretty well. Out of an entire CD of amazing tracks, this track seems to be the "decent" one of the bunch, not amazing, but just decent. Thom's voice is too reverby for my tastes and the song doesn't go anywhere exciting. Jigsaw Falling into Place is a rehash of 2+2=5. Except it is the juggernaut of the album, the song that punches you in the face, grabs your side and throws you into the wall. This track begins to album's penultimate and final umph, Thom glooms over a quick paced drum beat and haunting humming. The guitar is Paranoid Android basically, but darker and heavier. This track is absolutely perfect, and builds, and builds. "Come on and let it out" Thom yells, and you can cut the tension with a spoon. It keeps building and it doesn't stop building this tension, never to be fully released. The final track, Videotape, may be the most personal track Thom has ever written and may replace Street Spirit as his hardest to play. The piano is painful, the bass follow's Thom's voice as it crawls, almost reluctantly against the track. Still building from the last track, as Thom near emotional breakdown never fully releases, and finally just stops. The track contains the most optimist lyrics on the CD, and ultimately shows Radiohead's readiness to embrace their personality as a band, and their embrace to go full circle and re-create themselves as a rock band.
Lyrics — 10
As always, Thom delivers cryptic, ghostly lyrics. The most powerful being, "Video Tape." The final verse of the cd, and perhaps one of the most uplifting Radiohead has ever written. "No matter what happens now/I won't be afraid/Because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen." An uplifting look into one's own life, or the final realization that this is as good as it is going to get. There is no reason to be afraid of life, and death because this is perfection. He's speaking almost as an existentialist, as a father, and a husband, and he's saying that though the world may be depressing, terrible, and awful, the true beauty is in the love you share with your family. Love and beauty is reachable, and it isn't in saving the world, it's in saving yourself.
Overall Impression — 10
This is the OK Computer of the new millenium. Every song is perfectly fitting, there isn't a misplaced track, and everything synches into perfection. There isn't a single thing to hate about this album except for the fact that Radiohead refuses to sink into mediocrity. Young people and musicians revel in the fact that Radiohead haven't released a bad album since their debut, almost five brilliant albums later, and they can churn out what may be their most consistant and accessible album yet, and while they have sacrificed some of their creative bleeps and bloops, they haven't sacrificed their brilliance to innovate beyond innovation. If it were stolen, I'd download another, because it's free baby. Prepare for the music industry to understand what it is to be an artist.