Sunday, January 25, 2009

797. Radiohead - The Bends (1995)

Track Listing

1. Planet Telex
2. The Bends
3. High And Dry
4. Fake Plastic Trees
5. Bones
6. (Nice Dream)
7. Just
8. My Iron Lung
9. Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was
10. Black Star
11. Sulk
12. Street Spirit (Fade Out)


We are in 1995 and you hear that Radiohead are putting out a new album. Then you are thinking, "oh yeah those guys from Creep". And you think you'll get a slightly above average album of post-grungy derivativeness. Then you get home and you put this on.

And you've never heard anything like it before. For one simple reason, there was nothing like it before. The layering, the lyrics, the vocal range, the inventiveness, the sheer emotional power of it. And you think... "hey these guys could go somewhere".

And then you listen to it again and again, and you realise that Pablo Honey was the fluke, not this. This is amazingly well thought out music, recreating arena-rock to the thinking public, this is new. In the context of the endlessly derivative mid-90s Britain nothing sounds like this. In the context of the US reeling from the end of Nirvana, nothing sounds like this, although Smashing Pumpkins would like to.

There is not one note wrong in this album, it bridges the gap between Pablo Honey and the possibly even more amazing OK Computer perfectly. It creates just the right balance between accessible and strange, in the same way the Pixies did before them, albeit in a very different style. An album which creates a new musical style all by itself, a pivotal album without which comparatively crappy bands like Coldplay or Muse would not exist. This is the best album of 1995, bar none. A perfect ten.

Track Highlights

1. Fake Plastic Trees
2. Just
3. Bullet Proof... I wish I was
4. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The album's title, which refers to decompression sickness, is one of many references to physical illness and brokenness on the album, but has also been seen to tie into the band's own career trajectory. According to one biography, "For their second album, Radiohead chose an extremely symbolic title... Radiohead rose too soon (due to the success of 'Creep', which they were hardly prepared for) and had to suffer the unpleasant consequences (critical backlash, record company pressure, general confusion and dismay about how to continue meaningfully)."

Fake Plastic Trees:


Anonymous said...

Supergrass and Radiohead and now we've got Alien Lanes to look forward to tomorrow? What a perfect little strech we've got here. The Guided by Voices one is the "growiest" by far but I do hope you'll give it a fair shot. It's well worth it!

Francisco Silva said...

I am really liking it, actually :)

Rod McBan said...

I like this album, but it's still very much in the vein of post-grungy derivativeness, and easily outstripped by actually original (and far less annoying) 1995 albums like Post by Bjork or 94 Diskont by Oval.

I mean, it's U2+Big Star+REM, basically. Sometimes they glam it up a bit, as was the fashion. And ugh! Those awful grungy bits where they do the Nirvana riffs and ruin otherwise fine songs.

I like grandiose pop rock but I don't think they went beyond being "pretty cool" until OK Computer.

Lachlan Willis said...

But I like U2, Big Star and REM :(...

That being said this album still deserves a 10/10, but its not perfect by any means. Now if they had gotten rid of a less important and bland song such as Sulk or Bullet Proof, and included Talk Show Host instead, then this would be a perfect 10/10. I really don't understand why that song was a B-Side...

Anonymous said...

So what did that guy say? I have to know!

Rod McBan said...

Sorry about complaining but I was half asleep at the time.