on 15 February 2012
Pablo Honey always promised us that there was a hell of a lot more to come from Radiohead and luckily for those of us who waited for the follow up The Bends did not disappoint. There is a bit of everything on here from the slightly obscure to the full on rock song and then stripped right back to the surreal ballad, never leaving behind a very clever pop sensibilty. In the same way Nirvana also perfected. This is one of the few albums that you can listen to from beginning to end without being tempted to occasionally skip the odd track. Thom Yorke is one of the most truly underrated vocalists and this collection of tunes is a perfect example of his ability albeit high pitch, powerful, or quite and personal. This album is simply a must have for any music lovers collection!
on 25 February 2005
This is my favourite Radiohead album, for the following reasons:
1)Personally as a guitar-player myself, this is the kind of quality I (in my (nice)dreams!) aspire to. Inspirational.
2)Track for track it is the most consistently brilliant, so many excellent songs, only average effort being the penultimate number, 'Sulk', good indie fare I suppose, if it was Coldplay would be one of their better efforts, but this being Radiohead, it kinda pales in comparison to the rest of the album.
3)Being of the inclination to rock-out every now and again, when this rocks, it rocks hardest of all RH albums...although Paranoid Android and Electioneering on OK Computer come pretty close.
4) The furious explosion from nowhere of Johnny Greenwood's telecaster on the otherwise mellow, acoustics-and-strings '(nice dream)' is inspired, few bands I can think of currently could pull off such a transition with such success, or frankly would attempt it.
5) Likewise, the deft switch between hysterical thrash and serenity on 'Just', both in the instrumentation and in Yorke's vocals, this song exhibits what is for me the best instrumental bridge in rock in the last decade....very brief, but achingly beautiful nonetheless.......how do they do it?
On the negative side, which for the sake of balance I thought I might put in.
1) The non-inclusion of 'Talk Show Host', B-side and equal of the Single 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' Used to great effect in the modern-era set adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Such a shame, as it would have made great album even better.
2)This is a more tentative one, but personally, whilst I think Planet Telex is a wonderful, ambitious, sweeping song, for me, it is perhaps a bit whimsical and lacking in pace as an opening manifesto for the album....just a thought.
Other than that, sublime and superb, I particularly love the fact that though doubtless this band is composed entirely of virtuosi,on this album they are never dragged into meandering flashy playing for its own sake, it all leads somewhere and adds to the awesome sound.
Buy this and play it loud....maybe even indulge in a bit of crazed air-guitar once you have checked no-one else is watching ;-)
on 20 August 2001
Although having owned this album for 6 years I thought I should give it the praise it so desperatly deserves.
No other album has the power to throw the listener through such a series of moods and emotions. It's highly evocative and inspirational and creates an ambience that only Radiohead could.
The journey takes you through such beautiful and melodic songs as (Nice Dream), High and Dry, Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was, Street Spirit (Fade Out)and of course the wonderful Fake Plastic Trees. However, this album has other tricks up it's sleeve including heavier rock songs like Just, The Bends,My Iron Lung and Planet Telex to mention a few tunes that instantly enthuse the listener to the piont of nirvana (no musical pun intented).
Matched only with the possiblity of OK Computer (depending on your opinion), The Bends is an album which should be on every shelf and in every CD player in the entire English speaking world and beyond. If you do not own it; shame on you. You are missing out on the musical expierence of your life. This IS one of the greatest albums ever and it will influence you in ways you never thought music could!
But don't take my word for it, buy it yourself; then turn down the lights, sit back, put your feet up, enjoy and listen to over and over again.
on 3 December 1999
I have owned this album since the day it came out, and it still caresses those heart strings. 'High & Dry' is true musical, and lyrical class. The title track, 'The Bends' deserves to be just that. 'Black Star' and 'Sulk' excel. Worth the cash ten times over.
on 4 April 2006
Its official, I've just listened to The Bends for the 130th time, iTune's just told me. Not to mention the dozens of times i've played it in the car, at home etc etc. I have everything Radiohead have ever done and adore most of it, of course OK Computer and Kid A are special, but i just always keep coming back to The Bends. From the exquisite lyrics of "High and Dry", to the spine tingling guitar break on "Just", and the simply gorgeous opening melody of "Nice Dream", music quite literally doesn't get better than this. Hope Thom and the boys read these reviews, they should know what positive effect they've had on people's music lives, and thats its entirely their fault i get dirty looks for playing my music too loud on the tube :-) Coldplay? Who?
on 20 December 2008
Amazing, stunning, brilliant - what more can I say. Radiohead at their peak. How a band can jump from a mediocre album like their debut to this one is unbelievable. If you are dissillusioned with Radiohead's later work (don't bother with most of it), then put this album on to remind yourself why they are seen as great. It's an album that perfectly balances artistic merit with commercial value. There's a song on here for everyone - amazing. I personally prefer this to OK Computer, but that's my opinion. Everyone raves about OK Computer, but the raving should of started with this one really.
on 26 May 2001
I bought this record after much persuasion from my mate. He'd spent a while trying to convince me of the wonders of radiohead and, thanks Paul, it worked. This album, along with The Holy Bible (Manic Street Preachers) and In Utero (Nirvana), is simply the best album ever. Every track is dripping in heartbreak, optimism, anger - sometimes all at once. Beginning with the wonderful opener Planet Telex where Thom Yorke's bittersweet falsetto is at it's most painful but inspiring you know that you're in for a special album. The Bends is equally beautiful. The best lyric and a jagged but life-affirming tune that pokes fun out of nostalgic 60s obsessives. High And Dry is just a straight forward gorgeous song. Rudimentary acoustic strum with Thom crooning over the top. Simple isn't it? Hardly. When you have just had High And Dry the last thing you'd expect would be an even more heartbreaking track. But that's exactly what you get, Fake Plastic Trees. "It wears her out" sung with such heartfelt sincerity as you wonder whether Thom will make it to the highest note. Thankfully he does. Inevitably the next track would appear trivial but it's a testament to the genius that it doesn't. More uplifting certainly, but hardly trivial. Bones is a little romp with a good lyric attacking casual drug use. Nice Dream is onamatopeic. Dreamy, wishing music - almost a lullaby! Just's intro guitar riff does suspiciously echo Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana but it soon cascades into another 3 1/2 minute gem of genius. My Iron Lung is pretty standard stuff now but that's just pointing out the quality of the album. That such a fragile and beautiful track is the norm on this album shouldn't detract from its brilliance. Then came possibly the only weak moment on the album in my opinion, Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was. It's neither here nor there really and is pretty similar to Nice Dream but just a lot thinner. Black Star is a biting but understanding lyric given voice by another stunning melody (where do they get them from??). Sulk is a nice little indie tune but not as special as th others. Finally, the haunting Street Spirit (Fade Out). A timidly optimistic lyric hidden by a bleak but beautiful (sorry to use that word again!) guitar part and as Thom brings a truly stunning album to a close with the wail, "Immerse your soul in love" you feel strangely hopeful. Says it all really.
on 3 August 2015
Like a disco hosted by Francis Bacon, all limbs cracked and drugged to get away from the horror, the Bends might be simplistically summed up as Nirvana's woe is me meets Queen's soaring vocals. With a touch of the oriental in My Iron Lung, including the dejected line, as if agreeing with earlier critics 'This this is our new song Just like the last one A total waste of time' and then, as if that had all been the dourest, dryest, of advertising slogans, the punchline, the product title 'My Iron Lung'. For in this early to mid 90s album, Thatcherism and Majorism's broadly anti-youth culture, banal or teasingly hopeful advertising slogans like Coca Cola's 'Just like the real thing' find their way in to the Fake Plastic Trees. This time I'll be 'Bulletproof - I wish I was' (before La Roux's different song) is a masterful song in haunted, almost voiceless, weakness in the face of overbearing odds- acceptance, respect and, most of all, genuine love. And, not said enough- to feel sexy. For Radiohead write very sexy, music. The crescendo of Just's guitars for instance. The drum accompanied climax of The Bends 'To blow me away, to blow me sky high'. It's like frustrated passion, intellect, generosity in the face of a world that just doesn't care if the music is wafting out over aisle 5 of a soulless supermarket in a soulless airport departure lounge. Like the Pulp of Oxford, 'I met her in supermarket', Radiohead have essentially the same sentiments- too clever and angry to be around most people. Too nice and clever to NOT be around people. The Bends is an extraordinary album. In fact, very many of the same facets that OK Computer had were already done are on The Bends. Black Star for instance- 'This is killing me'- the suffocation of modern life, in terms of sheer number of people, amount of information and misinformation, and physical and mental ailment. It might not have Pink Floyd's pastoral nature (more a Cambridge than an Oxford thing- Oxford is more urban, although relatively so) but it is an excellent Oxford-Cambridge counterpart for the 90s to Floyd's entire output. It is a very, very, important album.
on 28 May 2012
This is in my opinion, radioheads best work along with OK Computer. It has a strong alternative rock sound, but they put there own spin on it to set themselves out from the crowd. The albums opens with the song "Planet Telex", which isn't one of the standout tracks on the album, but it is still has a catchy hook and is a good opener. Next is the title track which is a big stadium sort of song that would fire up a crowd. "High and Dry" comes next which in my opinion is one of the best songs on the album. It opens with a nice, mellow guitar riff before the rest of the band comes in. Thom Yorkes incredibly catchy vocals in the chorus are beautiful and uplifting. After that is the track "Fake Plastic Trees" which is to me, one of the best songs on the album. It is very minimal at the beginning, consisting of just vocals and guitar. But during the chorus an organ comes in which only adds to the beauty of the song. Halfway through the song the song picks up with some electric guitars and drums. The album bursts into life with the track "Bones" which is the most aggressive and loud song on the album. Thom's wailing vocals in the chorus are no doubt one of his best vocal performances on the album. The song " Nice Dream" marks the halfway line on the album and is a nice mellow way to calm things down before the next track "Just". This song is a big loud rock song with a catchy guitar riff and some fast background playing by Johnny Greenwood. Next comes "My Iron Lung" which I feel is one of Johnny Greenwood's best guitar riffs to date. The guitar riff is whiny and feels surreal.. After the that the song slowly creeps along until the loud chaotic ending.One of the standout tracks for me. Following that comes "Bullet Proof...I wish I was" which is a slow, moody, mellow track which is very pleasant to listen to. This song gets a little tedious after a while, but is overall a good listen. "Black Star" comes next and this is another rock song with a big chorus and a catchy hook. Next comes the powerful song "Sulk" which I feel is Thom's best vocal performance on the album and one of his best ever. His soaring powerful vocals are great and incredibly impacting which makes this song feel so warm and deep. Finally come the song "Street Spirit" which features a haunting riff from Greenwood, followed by the equally haunting vocals from Thom Yorke. A great way to close the album
There aren't many negative points I can make about this album. It is is powerful, emotional, and brilliant. I highly recommend it.
on 28 February 2002
This, the penultimate album before radiohead went...weird...is an artistic triumph, and reminds you why music is worth listening to.
The track listing is truly superb, and the writing of the songs unbelievable. Thom Yorke's voice is at it's beautiful best, lilting beautifully at times before plunging to golden-gravel depths, and when the midrange is required a hint of savagery at times before softening again...in all songs on this album (with the possible exception of the opener, Planet Telex) vocals are on top form. At least the same could be said of the instruments. Wonderful guitar riffs and exhilarating solos wonderfully arranged.
With superb songs such as [just], High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Bones and My Iron Lung as well as the movingly wonderful Street Spririt [Fade Out], this album never fails to deliver.
Perhaps the only thing that could be said in criticism is the absence of an instantly memorable tune in the style of the earlier "Creep", or the later "Karma Police", but this is simply a minor fault in a wonderful album.
Overall, in all departments this album is a wonderful listening experience which should be missed by none. If you don't already own this album, then for God's sake get it now!