‘OK Computer’ opened up with a guitar roar like some colossal engine revving with drums that sounded as if the whole vehicle was crashing. ‘Kid A’ goes two whole tracks before the first bass comes in and three whole tracks before a guitar makes an appearance; not to mention the first drum pattern you hear is about as noticeable as a synchronised moth’s fart in the background. Whichever way you looked it at, Radiohead had grown. If ‘OK Computer’ hinted at a dehumanised, machine-led society, ‘Kid A’ is already there, in all its beauty, sadness, awe and confusion. Thom Yorke’s lyrics swing from the totally bizarre (the first verse of ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ repeats the phrase “Yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon” four times) to the painfully poignant as found in the most emotionally devastating song they will ever write ‘How to Disappear Completely’. Whether indulging in experimental oddities (‘Everything…’) or left-field gleaming rock songs (‘Optimistic’), the quality never lets it’s guard down. The band even try their hand at ambient on the glacial, enveloping mood-piece ‘Treefingers’ which introduced a legion of rock fans onto the genre. The title track is a lullaby sung by Frankenstein’s monster whereas ‘Idiotech’s nervous, frosty techno-rock remains a live favourite as does the cacophonous dystopian jazz-drone-rock ‘The National Anthem’. The aptly named ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’s church organ and harp flourishes bring ‘Kid A’ to an organic, human close that makes you feel like you’ve just sat through something you’ll always remember. Trust me, you will.
As if they hadn’t done enough in their career, ‘Kid A’ added a third to their canon of classic albums, taught rock fans about keyboards and taught techno fans about guitars; it seems to resonate so well within people today. It’s both an escape from, and a representation of, all the internal pressures and fears we have in modern culture; feeling awed and powerless at a world which we have helped to build but have no control over.
Listen to this: driving at 3AM
Key Track: In Limbo