Sound — 8
"Creep" was a great hit back in it's heyday. A psycho love-lorn ode rarely seen, you either loved it for one of two reasons: You dug the stylistic change it had on a nation's music, which opened the realm of possibilities to explore and to go beyond Grunge. Or, you just dug the "skra-kunk, skra-kunk" distorted guitar in between each Chorus. The song dismissed Radiohead as a one-hit wonder. That would prove false with the making of there incredible sophomore album, The Bends. There is no fluke here. No song better than the other. People who dismissed "Just" as another lucky hit, take heed: It wasn't just a quick hit. It was just the first single. It almost seemed as if Radiohead changed overnight, realizing the flaws that plagued Pablo Honey, and decided to start from scratch in a new direction. Raw, murky, unclear, and disoriented, this album jumps all over the field. Radiohead's guitar buzz lurks in and out, but it's the risks they took here that make this album exceptional. Songs like "High and Dry" with it's drum clash, and droning acoustic guitar seem to follow the more traditional pathway, but there's just something in teh way Thom Yorke sings that stretched Chorus that takes the song to new hights. Yorke isn't just a vocalist; he's magic, baby. Stone cold anthem rockers like "Just" pack enough punch and attitude to thrill any head-banger, while the many breakdowns of clean guitars and synth's will apeal to the alternative crew. And tracks like the mesmerizing "Fake Plastic Trees" will release the inner sap in anybody with half a heart.
Lyrics — 8
Grim and happy are two words not meant to be used together, but their blend is welcome here. These lyrics aren't exactly going to make you pull the gun out of your mouth, but these lyrics mix with a very jubilant, happy sounding music that is just exceptional. But even more remarkable is the change we see happen before us in vocalist Thom Yorke. It's hard to take the pressure of being dismissed as a one-hit wonder, and Yorke addresses this on "My Iron Lung" almost pissed off (Here's another song/just like the last one/a complete w.a.s.t.e. of time). He's wrong. Nothing here is a waste of time, and will completely envelop anyone who hears his heartfelt, saddened words. But perhaps the best here is the closing track "Street Spirit (fade out)". We've travellled through an album of lost, sad, confused lyrics, and at the very end of this grim, cold prognasis, Thom Yorke bids his final words: "Immerse yourself in love." Is he being sarcastic, or trying to stay hopeful through this confused ride? Who cares, when music is this good, just sit back in awe.
Overall Impression — 10
This is the album that established Radiohead, and the let the entire world know that they're here no matter what kind of music they make. Over the years, radiohead have taken there music in all directions, from arena rock, to twitchy electronica, to free jazz, to sounds from everywhere. It started here. This is the real debut album, and the real deal. Sort of like the roots. Any Radiohead fan owes it to himself to listen to the sound of the begginings. To much of a rocker for this stuff? Don't worry; there's some of them good vibes as well, friend. Enjoy.