Sound — 7
Radiohead's The Best Of comes at a time when the band is still peaking. There are very few people left on earth who have not heard of the band's Zen-like eclectic pop tune Karma Police or the synth-pop meshed Creep. Radiohead paved the way for alt-pop bands like The Verve Pipe and Death Cab For Cutie to rise. As a retrospective, the band has presented fans with the best of their current repertoire. Included in the collection are Karma Police, Creep, High And Dry, My Iron Lung, and Optimistic to name a few. From the wooly shoegaze hazes of Just to the dreamy kindles and soft modulations of No Surprises and the steamy synth effects and globular embers of Idioteque, The Best Of takes audiences through the kaleidoscope of patterns that Radiohead have crafted over the years. Some surprises are the exotically tempered flange of There There, the smoky psychedelics and lounging tempo of Lucky, and the soft synth and goliath acoustics of Fake Plastic Trees which is dotted by tender violin overtones. From the willowy textures and flourishing raptures of 2+2=5 to the cycles of schizophrenic cracks in Paranoid Android, Thom Yorke sleep-eyed vocals are a mainstay while fringed in everything from synth-pop and shoegaze to acoustic rock and eclectic pop. The Best Of takes fans through the many phases that Radiohead has experienced, and by closing their first disc with Everything In It's Right Place, the band leaves the listener feeling gratified and showing that they still have a fire in their bellies which burns bright to go on making music.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics can be as profound as their frilly esoteric synth textures, or as flesh and bones as exposing human vulnerabilities and flaws like in the song Creep with words like, I wish I was special/But I'm a creep... What the hell am I doing here/I don't belong here. The lyrics turn obscure like on the track My Iron Lung with verses that warrant a closer inspection, The head shrinkers, they want everything/My Bill, my Belisha beacon/Suck, suck your teenage thumb/Toilet trained and dumb/When the power runs out/We'll just hum/This, this is our new song/Just like the last one/A total waste of time/My iron lung. Radiohead's lyrics are anything but common and still they are phrases that people identify with and apply to their lives.
Overall Impression — 7
Radiohead's The Best Of album rounds out what the band has accomplished thus far, and leaves the window open to making more records. The final track on the first disc Everything In It's Right Place washes the plate clean and acquaints audiences with a refurbished Radiohead. The song sounds different from the previous 16 tracks on Disc 1 and leaves audiences anticipating something more from Radiohead. The Best Of CD also comes with a special addition CD of Radiohead's newest material, which sweetens the package. Some highlights on the second CD include the sonically piercing Go To Sleep and the smooth synth spears of True Love Waits. The Best Of gives audiences a complete view of who Radiohead is and where they are going, which is mapping out melodic pop tones that fit into prog rock templates.