21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2001
Reviewers should probably start by admitting their bias, and mine is that I loved Kid A. Having I enjoyed Radiohead since Creep and The Bends, I realised with OK Computer that this was not a band content to musically stand still. All of the major artists like The Beatles,Dylan,Bowie etc.have been driven by the urge to explore and, despite the inevitable clunker, emerged stronger for it. And, inevitably, their old fans attacked them for it. I find Amnesiac to be a far more melodically accessible album than Kid A, but it only works if you're not expecting more of the stadium rock anthems of yore. Certainly, it's not an album for everyone, but compared to the later work of,say, Autechre or Squarepusher it's actually rather user-friendly given its ambitions. I left one star off because I feel the best work of Radiohead is still to come. But complaining that it doesn't all sound like My Iron Lung is like complaining that I Am The Walrus isn't as good as Please Please Me.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2006
Pulk/pull Revolving Doors summed this album up when I first heard it. Dark, dense, atonal, full of dissonance. I thought, "Well let's skip this and put it down to "uptheirownbacksideness"". I'd always considered this album started at "I Might Be Wrong" and the second part of this album welded on to the first five tracks of Kid A would have been a better move.
However, having put together quite a few playlists on the old i-pod, I noticed that I was always including far more tracks from Amnesiac than any of the other albums. Recently therefore I thought it might be worth playing the whole album through one more time. This was after not listening to any Radiohead at all for quite some time.
And there are revolving doors.
There are doors that open by themselves.
There are sliding doors and there are secret doors.
There are doors that lock and doors that don't.
There are doors that let you in and out but never exit.
But there are trap doors that you can't come back from."
- Pulk/pull Revolving Doors
I couldn't put it better myself. I seem to have slipped through that trap door that you can't come back from. This is simply an astonishing piece of work coming from the limitations of a five member rock group.
There are legions of music lovers who put The Bends and OK Computer in their top ten. There are lesser numbers who recognise Kid A as the improvement that it is. But I have a feeling in years to come that more and more will unlock the mechanisms in this little puzzle, and recognise "their secret album" for what it is. Their masterpiece.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2006
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2006
The popular misconception of this album is that it's just made up of Kid A cast-offs. But that is simply not the case. Many consider this radioheads finest body of work even though its not as critically acclaimed as Kid A.
Personally this is my favourite Radiohead longplayer. Pyramid Song, You And Whose Army?, I Might Be Wrong, Like Spinning Plates and Life In A Glasshouse being particular highlights..
The album feels more listenable and complete than Kid A, while still offerring some great electro-experimental moments- the industrially tinged Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors being one of my favourites.
If you like Kid A or Hail To The Theif you need this recording. ignore whatever is said about it.
And if you like this - i highly recommend I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings. For a particularly heart-felt rendition of Like Spinning Plates and stunning bside 'True Love Waits'
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2013
A lot of people, critics and fans alike, simply dismiss Amnesiac as some form of inferior B Side album to the great Kid A. No doubt, because the songs on Kid A and Amnesiac were recorded in the same sessions. This may cause one to form an negative opinion, before having heard the album, based on the assumption that Radiohead put out this album with songs not good enough for Kid A.
Having listened to both albums extensively, I honestly find that this cannot be true. There are two reasons for this: one is that (in my opinion) the music on Amnesiac is just as good if not better than that of Kid A, and secondly that Amnesiac has a very different sound to Kid A. More on both of these points.
Firstly, by 'good music', I mean here more attractive, melodic and pleasing. Obviously those are not only criteria on which music should be judged - I think Kid A is a more powerful album, and more influential/important - but I personally much prefer listening to Amnesiac. Listen to tracks like the Pyramid Song (which is simply a instant Radiohead classic), with its stunning piano chord progression and striking melody, or You And Whose Army, which progresses from a gentle - almost acoustic - beginning to a rock anthem style ending. The way that song changes at the end of the first minute I find a remarkable listening experience. The grungey guitar riff of I Might Be Wrong grabs one instantly, as does the softer but at the same time darker Knives Out. There really are a multitude of great tracks on this record; Dollars & Cents, Morning Bell/Amnesiac (which is very similar to its Kid A counterpart but more attractive) and the opener (which shares similarities with the Kid A opener Everything In Its Right Place, with infectious dark synths and similarly great lyrics - I'm a reasonable man/Get off my case), amongst the other strong songs.
In comparison to Kid A, Amnesiac holds its own musically. Admittedly Kid A has that fabulous opener and Idioteque (surely one of the most powerful and tense songs every recorded), but the riff on I Might Be Wrong is just as strong as that on The National Anthem, Like Spinning Plates is an equally strong ambient track compared to Tree Fingers, and Knives Out and The Pyramid song are (in my opinion) superior to the likes of Kid A and How to Disappear Completely.
The second reason that Amnesiac is not merely a B Side to Kid A is that the sounds of the Albums are very different. Kid A is a lot more aggressive, more angry, more unsettled (and unsettling). That sound is characterized by the twitchy beats on The National Anthem or Idioteque, or the downright weird Kid A. Amnesiac I find to be softer, more accessible. I don't understand why some say that Amnesiac is even more difficult than Kid A, it really isn't. Many of the songs are driven by guitars or pianos, there isn't as much weird electronica (not to say I don't like weird electronica but it tends to be more challenging) - pulk revolving doors being the exception there.
No, Amnesiac stands very successfully as an individual album, the songs flow together nicely to create a remarkable listening experience.
One thing is for sure, if you are getting in to Radiohead, you have probably heard OK Computer, In Rainbows, The Bends or Kid A. The next step is Amnesiac, a record which deserves similar (perhaps not quite as much) recognition as those three. Don't be put off by the dismissiveness of other critics, or indeed the frankly wrong suggestion that amnesiac is less accessible than Kid A. Give it a listen.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2002
You don't often listen to music whilst not doing something else. It is a rare occasion when you sit down, and listen to an album. Usually (or at least in my case), listening to albums/music in generall involves working/waking up/sleeping/etc. Amnesiac is perfect for all of these situations, and this is what I want an album for.
Every song is worthwhile on this album. 'Packt...' opens the album broodingly;a repetitive beat evolves into subtle keyboards and delicate vocals, followed by the 'I'm a reasonable man...' catch-line. Amnesiac begins where it means to carry on;quiet, mysterious and thoroughly enthralling.
The defining moment of this album is the opening to 'Pyramid Song'. Subdued piano blends with growing haunting vocals set the tone for this magnificent, immense song. Later in the track, drums, guitars and violins create a cacophony of sound, arousing the senses whatever you are doing. 'Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors' is easily the worst track on the album, ruining the atmosphere created by the previous track. However, its ugly muffled vocals do mix with the gritty music, and although some pretentious critics say 'Pulk/Pull...' is only worthwhile listened to as a 'thing', its musical values do grow. Not great, but not as bad as most say.
'You and Whose Army?' begins as a sunny sunday morning, and ends as a slow sunday evening lament, with a sad centre. 'I Might Be Wrong' is my favourite track, reminding me of my favourite track of all time(Idioteque on Kid A). The excellent choppy riff builds and builds with Thom Yorke's fuzzy lyrics, climaxing in a tear-jerking guitar solo. 'I Might Be Wrong' is my favourite track on Amnesiac.
'Knives Out' dissapoints slightly, as it begins so well, yet stays there. Don't get me wrong, I love this track, yet I feel it could have been better. The Amnesiac version of 'Morning Bell' is the antithesis of the Kid A version. The lighter arrangements are better for groggy sunday mornings than the original for sure!
The final four tracks bring Amnesiac to a close moodily. Despite 'Dollars and Cents' obscure lyrics, it is a stunning piece. Fitful guitars and an array of other instruments combine well to create another haunting Radiohead classic. 'Hunting Bears' is the defintion of pretentiousness, but I do like it. The unremarkable guitar work does benefit from some crafty production and occasional perfectly placed chord. 'Like Spinning Plates' is confusing to begin with, yet grows with time, and the final track is a real gem. Expecting a moody pessimistic finale to the album, 'Life In a Glass House' throws the listener into a delightful and peculiar jazzy world. Humphrey Lyttleton and his merry band of musicians provide inspiration to Radiohead, with Yorke finally coming out of his shell to sing properly for the first time in two spectacular albums.
Everybody knew Radiohead were the best band in the world after Pablo Honey, THe Bends, OK computer and (my favourite)Kid A, now everybody knows they are the best band in the universe. And don't let some dwarf-like green man tell you otherwise.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2001
This record was made alongside Kid A, so the comparisoms are inevitable. However there is a reason Kid A isn't just one, longer album, and that is the only track here that would have fit on Kid A, and that is Pulk/Push Revolving doors.
So anyway, as with its predeccessor, don't jump to conclusions. Amnesiac is deep and many dimensional, and these things take time to explore but well worth exploring. Begining very strongly with a creep-o-matic's nightmare, Packt like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box combines dodgy beats with a beautiful electric piano and Thom's tuneful mutterings. Pyramid song needs no introduction as the most beautiful single this year, nor does the haunting guitar line and melody of Knives Out, a reminder of the Radiohead of OK Computer days.
Other highlights are the wonderful I might be wrong, You and Whose Army? and best of all Life in a Glasshouse, Jazz with a difference. The one dissapointment for me is Morning Bell, you just think why? The Kid A arrangment is much better, and I want to hear new Radiohead songs.
Anyway, Radiohead fans will have already bought it, so to everyone else who likes their rock acts to be different, Go buy!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2007
Apparently largely recorded during the same sessions as Kid A, and released only a year later, it has always been hard to divorce Amesiac from its predecessor and look at it on its own terms. It was suggested at the time - and repeated in the Amazon review - that this was slightly more commercial sounding than Kid A, but not to my ears. Listening to it now, it is a less consistent but more challenging album - funereal and dirge-like, 'fat and dark' as the band coined it. The pure synths of 'Everything in its right place' and 'Kid A' have been replaced by jittery, glitchy textures, jazzy rythmns, and lots of spidery, nervous guitar. Its a haunted, paranoid album, if anything less immediate than 'Kid A' and more demanding.
'Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box' is an inauspicious opener, with Thom Yorke singing "I'm a reasonable man get off my case" like an automaton over gloomy electro. The inertia and resignation of this beginning sets an Orwellian tone, while the ethereal 'Pyramid Song' explores the more sublime and apocalyptic. One of their greatest songs, the shiver-inducing lyrics are rich with imagery: "Jumped in the river and what did I see? Black-eyed angels swam with me ... All my lovers were there with me. All my past and futures, And we all went to heaven in a little row boat, There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt". A companion piece to 'How to Disappear Completely' and, later, 'Sail to Moon', no-one else write songs quite this singular in mood, and as strikingly visual. The power of this song is slightly offset by the jarring abstraction of 'Pulk/pull Revolving Doors', which glitches and flutters like a butterfly caught in a typewriter, but feels emotionally frigid.
'You And Whose Army' redresses the balance slighty with its anthemic piano ballad and dizzying crescendo. The Blair-baiting lyrics, "Come on if you think. You can take us all on ... you and your chronies", recall that of the not-dissimilar 'Karma Police'. It's possibly the album's most conventional track, but still one of its best. 'I Might Be Wrong' is a totally new direction for Radiohead, based around a propulsive (even danceable), angular guitar loop, with Thom's lyrics pushed to the back of the mix. It is a surprisingly effective maneouver, giving Yorke's lyrics a nostalgic, less-histrionic feel: "Let's go down the waterfall, Have ourselves a good time, It's nothing at all ...Nothing at all". Moreover, the little breakdown at the end is superb.
I have heard 'Knives Out' compared to The Smiths, but there is none of Johnny Marr's jaunty playing on this oppressive single. Its a gloom-laden affair that Yorke referred to as "about cannibalism", but more prosaically about a father walking out on a family. 'Morning Bell/Amnesiac' is an unnecessary remix (of sorts) of the superior track of the same name from 'Kid A'. When I originally bought 'Amnesiac' I felt that this superfluous inclusion disrupted the flow of the album and gave it the nasty aftertaste of a 'Kid A' outtakes compilation. While I know longer feel this, the inclusion still irks. 'Dollars And Cents' is monolithic in its foreboding - dark, cavernous and opaque; while 'Hunting Bears' is two minutes of black, spidery guitar that serves as a reprise for 'I might be Wrong'. 'Like Spinning Plates' is all IDM and backwards effects, borrowing heavily (but successfully) from the Warp roster, while 'Life In A Glasshouse' is like a drunken mariachi funeral, Tom Waits-meets-Malcome Lowry. The final effect is one of unease and malaise, 'fat and dark' indeed, but still lightyears ahead of most contemporary bands.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"Kid A" and "Amnesiac" are largely the two sides of the same coin. Written and recorded at the same time, the two albums are the twins of the same musical pregnancy, seperated and left to live their own lives. "Amnesiac" suffers slightly from being the younger brother - the perception being it is made of out-takes and not very good songs. This is nonsense.
The two albums really are part of the same whole and should be seen only as companion pieces, not seperate entities. One could argue that each should have different selections and running orders, that the records are in a way, slightly schizophrenic, split personalities that would've benefit from seperation into two distinct stories, and you would be right. But they are in themselves, both, valid artistic statements with no shortage of integrity or vision.
What is truly baffling is the bonus tracks are, once again, shattered into pieces and fragmented out. The concert that appends "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" is a complete, and passionate one hour from French television after the release of the second album. Nonetheless, the concert is broken into two parts, and the songs divided into their parent albums. Instead of a Radiohead concert, you get a random assortment of songs lacking any cohesion. And since it was broadcast on French Television, you might expect the television broadcast on the DVD that accompanies them.... Well, you'd be wrong. The callous and heathen mutilation of the material is lacking in even a moments thought.
Not only that, but the bonus tracks are frankly, very incomplete, and are presented without a moments thought as to how they may sound when listened to as a complete experience.
The shows they are taken from are mutilated, cut to pieces, kids cut in half, torn apart by demons, and abandoned as roadkill with no care. If these releases are EMI's funeral farewell to Radiohead, theyc ould at least bury the records with dignity instead of leaving the corpse in the road.
The 10 song DVD that accompanies "Amnesiac" is servicable, but again, there's so much space unused, and the whole of that Paris concert that is licensed - and available spread across the two CD's in bits - still remains in a vault visually. What a waste. How these can be regarded as bonus editions when they are assembled with no artistry, no coherency, and no consideration is fairly incomprehensible.
This is the sound of a slapdash, half-bothered attempt to put together some vague appetisers to fool the majority of the public and assembled without any consideration for either what is actually available or what makes any form of musical or artistic sense, validity, or cohesion. The sound of a goal being missed as administrators devalue the art.
Sure, it's a fairly hefty bonus package and assembled with some decency, but it is, by any standard, an incomplete package assembled with no thought for what could provide a truly outstanding release. Why be great, when you can be good? Must try harder.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Liked it when it came out and still play it now and again. Few bands experiment out of a well defined Behavioural formula, first laid down by the 3 chord battering of the Ramones. Now the fretwork has become so well worn, the new outfits that bang them out in two minutes with some frenetic bar chords, all sound a chunkalunka samealama. Miserably crooned over the barrage of pruned fed and watered electricity with a white boy hand wringing whinge.
Out they drive, forever onward, rent acopy, coasting with the temerity of termites in their multiple droves, burrowing into the sonic infrastructure, the musical equivalent to a very watered down conceptual limp art. As the two sensibilities go manicured hand into cosy mitten, it sums up the main reason I do not go to art galleries or listen to moderne mulch, eons back.
Seemingly the record companies employ some behavioural psychologists to demarcate those Pavlovian moments, then pin point and distil the beats and choruses which hit the nerve ends, with all the panache of a computer plot chart set to powerpoint, remodelled by mathematicians into the perfect soulless pop song.
All duly delivered to the producers who shoe horn an artist into a pre configured template. To say it sounds the same is to do the Ramones a huge injustice, because they managed to combine sameness, originality with a big zest for life whilst forever acting dumb. Eventually they petered out but gave the world 5 albums of sheer sonic bliss.
So Amnesiac, steps outside the compound where the Pavlovian Dogs roam, and salivate. It veers into the worlds usually inhabited by Wire, Pil, New Order and a post punk anything is possible in double vision. They do it with a different take. Instead of the end of the world is about to ignite, Radiohead take the 21st Century stance of sheer meaninglessness as they gaze into a canyon and luxuriate in the social world that swirls around as mites trapped in dust, as people glaze into over consumption amnesia.
No longer a boot into the ribs into the social structure or a deconstruction of its effects, this sounds more like a mournful cry to someone out there, to see if they still exist.
Undertaken in 2002 when people still believed in big cap to deliver unlimited growth of three holidays, two homes and shovelling as much credit down the throat as could be gulletted, this stuck its foot out to trip the wary onlooker into another up ended vista.
Yes of course it is a companion to Kid A, if that is all that can be said, as an artist I would slash my wris...