If any Radiohead album epitimises the great music transition made at the turn of the millenium, 'Amnesiac' is it. Pre-2000 Radiohead was a totally different beast to the 21st century version, and this change in style, attitude and imagination is evident through their fifth studio album. The experimental nature of the disc was revolutionary at the time and proved Radiohead were no ordinary alternative rock band; they had the musical inovation required to create an album as unique and influential as Sgt. Peppers.
'Amnesiac' remains a lynchpin of their live act, not in the numerical sense, but in the way that the most moving memorable songs in the set were from the record. I recently saw them live at the Hammersmith Apollo and tracks from the album played a big part. The concert began with the sensationally moving 'You and Whose Army'. We were immersed in darkness and the beautiful piano and thickened vocals cut through me like a smooth feather. My spine tingled with excitement and I almost began to well up with emotion. Later in the set the jaunty bounce of 'Dollars and Cents' elated the crowd as Thom Yorke's dramatic (and often disturbing) lyrics sent waves of tension and angst throughout the audience. Although the album featured no more from Amnesiac, it could have done.
For example, the fantastic 'Pyramid Song', a similarly dramatic track to 'You and Whose Army', could well have played a huge part in the act, mainly due to its captivating emotion. 'I Might Be Wrong' and the truly superb guitar fuelled 'Knives Out' are also memorable songs adding great depth to the album.
'Amnesiac' however is an experimental, electronic album, so songs such as 'Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Can' and the jazz-fusion 'Life In A Glasshouse' require a particularly acquired taste. The backward sense insued by 'Like Spinning Plates' is often regarded as a high point of Amnesiac due its totally unique nature. The pain and anguish expressed in Thom Yorke's vocals are an amazingly physical feeling, and as Yorke wails 'It feels just like spinning plates' listeners everywhere feel (apart from slight confusion) a tragic sympathy towards Thom, whatever his problem may be. Elsewhere, the industrial dance track 'Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors' is a particularly strange point of Amnesiac, but still a fascinating one; the instrumental interlude 'Hunting Bears' gives off an ominous sense of well being; as does the slightly merrier version of 'Kid A's' 'Morning Bell'.
The imagination required to make such an amazingly unusual album as 'Amnesiac' is beyond belief. Radiohead surpassed so many expectations, defied so many critics, and often worried many fans due to their total betrayel of commercial success and guitar bassed indie music; and all to provide an extra depth to the music scene and widen the musical poriphoral. Not many can argue that Radiohead are consequently a vital aspect of music history and a fantastic band, and should be remembered for a very long time.