on 28 April 2001
I bought Kid A after buying and enjoying OK Computer, and at first I was a little disapointed. The style at first seemed very different from that of OKC, and the weird tunes and bizzare lyrics/vocals seemed baffling. I held this opinion untill about my 3rd listening of the album, when, and I know you've heard this 100+ times on this page already, but it really is true, it suddenly grows on you and you realise that you love this album. The songs are wonderful, not just because they are different, which is what people seem to praise it mostly for, but because they are excellent songs in themselves, whether they are as unique as they are or if it had been done 100 times before. The best tracks are probably 'How to dissapear completely', which is more traditional Radiohead quality, and 'Idioteque', perhaps the track which takes longest to appreciate, but it's bizzare lyrics and atmospheric sound make it a masterpiece of a song, and despite what some think, still sounding like Radiohead if you listen. Lots seem to hate this album, and I think it is just a case of personal preference, not a case of 'intellegence' or 'snobbery' as some argue. It is definately a 1 or 5 star album, and I would definately choose 5 stars. Weirdly brilliant.
on 12 July 2004
As a huge Radiohead fan, I would appoint 5 stars to The Bends and OK Computer as well as this one, with 4 stars to the rest. However, it's Kid A that stands out for me.
Nothing in the world of Radiohead is simple, it seems. Every album recording session produced something very different each time (this and Amnesiac were made at the same time so they don't appear to be so different). You never quite know what your going to hear each time they produce something. Kid A, to both the fan and the outsider, is a strange composition. Something difficult to get your head around, something difficult to get into. If it's not your scene, then you simply won't have time to let it sink in. If your willing to give it a go, then it grows on you. Well, not so much grow on you, more as to slowly suck you in.
Need an example? Take "Everything in it's right place" and "Optimistic". Upon first hearing I thought "is this really Radiohead!?". Took a few listens to let it sink in. But it grows on your mind, it becomes lodged in your head. Your not sure what the band are trying to do, but it's hard not to stop listening to it. Not all tracks do this. The likes of "The National Anthem" and "Idioteque" hit me immediatley. Both with such simple yet catchy basic beats and rhythms, the two are amongst my favourite songs from Radiohead. Amnesiac didn't quite have the same effect, and there wasn't as much "hidden" depth to the songs in earlier albums, and Hail to the Thief (along with ComLag - 2+2=5) is a step in another direction.
Despite being a huge fan of the guitar, I find my favourite Radiohead album being one which seemingly lacks any in most of the music. It's just so intriguing and almost disturbing, that it hacks it's way into my head and won't let go. Hard to explain in words the effect it had on me.
Fan of simple music? Stay away. Fan of anything other than indie and rock and Radiohead? Go listen to some intelligent music for a change, instead of your repetitive annoying nonsense dance/RnB rubbish. Kid A is intelligent, and is not for someone who has no time to sit and listen. Kid A also happens to be complete and utter genius. Cheers, Thom and the gang!
on 4 July 2008
I was one of those fans who didn't quite understand what Kid A was all about after buying it - and at that time (on it's release) I would probably have given it one star. I guess that was mostly down to my expectations, and there's no point elaborating on that now. Eight full years later and I can say that the album has certainly grown a lot on me - I listened to it again last night after enjoying In Rainbows. I have to say I enjoyed it more than I ever have done in the past - however I still find some of the tracks are a bit hard work to listen to. No bad thing if you have a reward at the end of it - but that isn't there yet for me. There are some fantastic moments throughout the album - and some of the soundscapes are fantastically well arranged for the twilight end-of-evening audio session - perhaps it's simply a case of me not being quite as tuned in to this style of music (as others are) - as opposed to it being a bad album. I can't justify four stars though - so on this occasion it has to be three.
For some reason I stopped listening to Radiohead after OK Computer. I tend to this when bands I like get really big.
What a fool I was. I´ve just picked this up many years after it was made and I´ve realised what a fool I´ve been.
This is one of the greatest records I´ve ever heard by a British group. Period. From the shimmering riff on,"Kid A," to the crescendo of trumpets and trombones on,"The National Anthem," this captivating record has the lot.
I don´t think I´ve ever heard a band use such a range of instruments to such grand effect. Everything is done with a languid poise, every single sound is perfectly in place, listen to,"treefingers," for example.
I think at the time complained at the time that they had put the guitars down. Well they haven´t on this record. It´s just the guitars are so well controlled. What is so clear is that Radiohead have not made this record because they thought it was a good idea, it´s a REAL progression in their music.
Whatsmore this is not in the slightest bit over produced, each effect plays it´s part in the creation of this subtle tapestry of music.
This hasn´t been off my stereo since I bought it a couple of weeks ago. One of the true classics.
I recently went on Last.fm and added up all the times I've listened to a song from the album Kid A: 659. And I started counting some time after buying the record. I'm probably the last person you should listen to about any future Radiohead releases, because I've been so biased by this album. But I wasn't biased before getting this album. The songs sound a bit "experimental" and hard to stomach the first time round, but really form a natural progression from OK Computer. The clue is in the (brilliant) album artwork: OK Computer is a sweeping cross-section of urban life at the end of the 20th Century; Kid A is a bleak, personal, pessimistic journey that epitomises the start of the 21st.
And of course Kid A is also a collection of songs very personal to the vocalist, Thom Yorke. His hopes, fears and depression following the exhausting OK Computer tour come across clearly in songs like the achingly beautiful How to Disappear Completely. Metaphors for being lost in a confusing and hostile world dominate the lyrics. (With scary subtlety, our character "floats down the Liffey" in How to Disappear and is "lost at sea" in In Limbo, while the backing vocals intone "Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea": the shipping forecast zones around the Liffey. Keep an atlas handy with this one.)
The album as a whole evokes a vivid nightmare, followed, perhaps, by an awakening with the song Morning Bell. Towards the end of the record down-to-earth themes like break-up and divorce creep into the lyrics, and the music complements the words perfectly. Kid A is full of clever tricks, from the sudden Charles Mingus jazz barrage in The National Anthem, to the bizarre funk beat that closes Optimistic, to the pipe organ on Motion Picture Soundtrack. Kid A is my favourite album - and probably will be for a while. If I've not sold it to you, read some of the other reviews!
on 11 February 2003
Kid A is a huge jump forward from Radiohead's previous outing, OK Computer. It's a hugely experimental album; and had a lesser band tried to make such an album, it might have, well, sucked. But in Thom Yorke and the rest of the band's more than capable hands, Radiohead have created a simply stunning album.
The first track gives you a good taste of what to come; Everything In It's Right Place is little more than Thom singing over a keyboard melody; a million miles away from Planet Telex and Airbag, the openings of the previous two albums. Yet despite Radiohead's transcendence from guitar music to, well, Kid A, they have remained as musically brilliant as ever.
Following this is the title track, Kid A, which is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in my short life; written on a computer program written by Thom, a baby's-mobile-like [can't think of a better way of describing it] melody plays, accompanied by Colin on bass and Phil giving a perfectly fitting drum accompaniment.
The album goes from atmospheric ballads like How To Disappear Completely, Morning Bell and In Limbo, to rock anthems like The National Anthem and Optimistic; to experimental tracks like the beautiful Treefingers and Motion Picture Soundtrack. And of course, there's the amazing Idioteque, a fast, energetic track with beautiful vocals and melody.
Radiohead's most experimental album is, while not their best, still an amazing record and definitely worth buying. In my opinion, this is a tour de force for Jonny, who gets to show off his keyboard abilities; and also Phil, whose drumming is superb in Kid A, The National Anthem and Idioteque. And of course, Thom's voice is as breathtaking as ever.
You should buy this album. Do it. Do it now. You know you want to.
on 25 February 2016
This sat on my shelf for far too long: I just couldn't forgive the band for not following my favourite LP of all time, OK Computer, with OK Computer Part 2.
...more the fool me.
For Radiohead to follow OK Computer, the greatest rock masterpiece of all time, with the Kraut-rock, electronic and jazz infused Kid A is the most audacious transformation in pop history - If Dylan going electric was dizzying then this 180 degree turn is positively mind-blowing.
Those pesky computers that were so maligned and mistrusted on 'OK Computer' were permitted to take control and the end product is the beautifully engineered chrome edifice that is Kid A.
But despite OK and Kid A being so different they're both unmistakably Radiohead albums. Which is the better one? I'm really not sure any more
on 27 August 2003
Some may argue that as the triangle chimed at the end of OK Computer, nothing could ever surpass let alone equal the work of the massive artisitc statement Radiohead made. With the unnerving prospect of media hype, they rightly chose to let music satiate the hungry pack of dogs that the press came to be.
The mixed reviews were, truth be told, the result of a public insulted by unintelligible popular culture, and all in all by marginalising themselves Radiohead secured cult status as musical innovators for years to come. The stark beauty of the opening electronic spits and ethereal keyboard introduction opens up the listener, referencing cult warp starlets such as Aphex Twin, or Icelandic experimentalists Mum. Yet even through the warped title track and indeciferable vocals, you cannot quite percieve how the album will pan out. Bring on 'National Antem', a fiery explosive affair, complete with Johnny Greenwood's insane brass brainchild and thudding basslines. Thom meanwhile renders himself insane with enough odd screams to frighten away the tamer listener (lovers of 'Nice Dream' may wish to run by this point). Just when guitar was out of the question, as the new post-OK Computer methods took sway, they reintroduce a song written years before with 'How to disappear completely'. The song is given a sonic makeover, recalling the more homely moments of Sigur Ros and to many is a peak of the album. The visionary statements give Yorke's voice its first real workout, and it does not disappoint. Treefingers then adds breathing space, recalling Brian Eno's ambient skill, before Optimistic gives the more Bends prone listener some remote comfort and shows Colin Greenwood's stylish basslines are improving with age.
Perhaps the most remarkable movement of the album follows, with the dreamy madness of 'In Limbo' fading into the harsh electronic beats of 'Idioteque', paying homage to Autechre perhaps, but riffling adverse lyrical banter (ie. Mobiles Chirping, Take the money and run). This defines the release as quite possibly the stongest fusion of electronics for a supposed guitar band. Why however should they constrain themselves to settings of the now weak comparitive early material and questionable productions of pre-Godrich days. The insane stir of Morning Bell leaks cut-paste wordplay ('Where dya park the car?') Thom adopts to place himself in a lonely post-modern world.
The album closes with the melancholic beauty of 'Motion Picture Soundtrack', with sublime Mercury Rev like strings and understated optimism. It is without doubt a stunning end to what inevitably will become the first classic of the new century. Earning them a US no.1 and plaudits amongst all genres of musician, it puts Radiohead's name amongst the great artists, not just of an age, but in recording history. Yet I still can't work out what Ed O'Brien did
on 18 May 2014
Never did get into this album on first release despite loving The Bends and Ok Computer , the departure was just too vast for me at the time. Having greatly liked Thom Yorkes Solo album and In Rainbows some years later and then caught a glimpse of The National Anthem in a film and really loved it so decided to revisit Kid A , Totally blown away it's definitely the album that rewards repeated listening a more than any other I own. I feel the tracks Everything in its right place , The National Anthem, How to Disappear Completely and Idiotique are the best the Band have ever done.
on 17 June 2007
It's hard to totally understand the furore surrounding the release of Radiohead's much-anticipated (and arguably best) fourth album. Considering the bold and uncompromising nature of some tracks on OK Computer it seems stranger in context that that album should have had such broad appeal. One can only assume that the wider public who had engaged with OK Computer in the late 90s were raised on a diet of Amercian music (Nirvana, Pumpkins etc.) and were not ready for the absence of rocking out on Kid A. Oddly, Kid A was initially far better received critically in the US than here in the UK, where as Thom Yorke wisely pointed out, people can't seem to stand success. Replacing the heavy riffing of 'Paranoid Android' for the sequencing and keyboards of Brian Eno and Aphex Twin was a curveball but a necessary evolution for a band who built their reputation and fanbase on progression.
But this was not a Warp album, Radiohead's emotional and thematic concerns have just been developed, and the music has developed with them. If OK Computer was partly about dehumanisation and inertia in modern life, then how better to realise that sound than with the pure, clinical synths on the beautiful opener 'Everything in its right place'. More than on their later albums 'Amnesiac' and 'Hail to the Thief', 'Kid A' gets the balance between songwriting and experimentation absolutely right. Thom Yorke's fine recent 'solo' album 'The Eraser' suggests that 'Kid A' best represents his creative vision, where the band's subsequent albums have sounded more democratic (band members pulling in different directions perhaps).
Where the heavily sequenced keyboard loops and vocal refrains of the opener somehow radiate an ethereal warmth, the title track is a futher step leftfield. Where the comatose chimes are eerily redolent of the toy guitar on 'No Surprises', 'Kid A' is about vacancy, emotional or otherwise, and sounds as if it was recorded in a vaccuum. Yorke's voice here is reduced to a buzzing residue in a world of numb space and oblique surfaces. 'The National Anthem' is the album's most bombastic moment, prog-rock decorated with a discordant brass section parping erratically. Not a favourite of mine, some of the carefully-constructed atmosphere and subtely of the first two tracks is lost for me here.
'How to Disappear Completely' is as achingly beautful as anything off 'OK Computer', picking up where the reverie of 'The Tourist' left us at the end of the last album. Richly orchestrated but drifting, it loosely resembles the Flaming Lip's equally fine 'Feelng Yourself Disintegrate'. With Yorke intoning, "I float down the liffey ... I'm not here ... This isn't happening", you can sense the singer's desire to divorce this album from the tangible and everyday, to refuse to provide a voice to modern anxiety in the way that 'OK Computer' and 'The Bends' did for many people. 'Treefingers' is an ambient doodle in the mold of Brian Eno's 'Music for airports', but too literally so, and is pretty nondescript. 'Optimistic' is more upbeat, with guitars returned to the front of the mix, but is only mediocre by Radiohead's high standards.
The final four tracks of the album are a fantastic companion piece, starting with the swirling, otherworldly 'In Limbo', which morphs and spirals into the more abrasive textures of 'Idioteque'. Arguably the album's stand-out track, definitely its most original, 'Idioteque' combines the machinated electro of Kraftwerk's more austere moments with a jarring falsetto melody from Yorke. The contrast is horribly poignant, with barely discernible lyrics such as "mobiles squawking, mobiles chirping, take the money run ... We're not scaremongering, this is really happening". Sung sickly-sweet, it has the panic-induced mania of an agoraphobic in a nightmarishly automated world, and is as close to the sound of madness as I have ever heard. When it melds into the gentler but still ominous keyboards of 'Morning Bell', it is something of a relief, with Yorke pleading soulfully "Light another candle ... Release me". An understated masterpiece, 'Morning Bell' is beautifully restrained ballad with hushed electronics - but with plenty of menace lurking under the surface. Inexplicably revisited in a different guise on 'Amnesiac', it blends perfectly into the closer 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' - a fitting coda to a quietly intense album, with its celestial organs and final "see you in the next life". Along with the Flaming Lips' 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots', one of the best albums of the 00s so far, and the most enduring of Radiohead's post-90s output.