Radiohead - Amnesiac

Year of Release: 2001
Label: EMI
Catalog Number: 7243 5 32764 2 3
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:55:00

The more this band evolves the more I start comparing them to Talk Talk. Not only was the latter also an EMI recording artist, they soon became so popular by means of their chart singles that they started to change their music drastically, from poppy tunes to pure ambient. Maybe Mark Hollis has been an example to Thom Yorke, that shedding his commercial skin, he can prove to the media that Radiohead is more than "Karma Police." The way Yorke and company work, however, is put together with much more thought, because instead of recording one new album, the boys took their time making sure they had enough material for two albums (even rumoured at one stage to be a double album). So they released Kid A and waited to see what people thought of their follow up to OK Computer. From a commercial point of view the record company received an album without any singles (except for "Idioteque"), but from an artistic point of view it was certainly a step forward. In a way Amnesiac could've been called Kid B or better still OK Kid as it embraces the more 'adult' sounds of Kid A combined with the more direct hooks of OK Computer.

Looking back at the band's output you can clearly see that these guys are still growing, so maybe for them the success of OK Computer didn't come at the right time as, of course, it puts a lot of pressure on whatever they thought of doing next. The "arty" approach, also where sleeve design is concerned, becomes too arty, which turns the entire package into an "arty"-ficial whole, thus losing all its soul along the way. From the opening sounds of "Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box" it becomes obvious that the sound will probably be more important than the actual songs themselves, so in a way the ambient nature of Kid A continues with the experimental soundscapes. Thom Yorke's long stretched vocals swim between piano and violins during "Pyramid Song," creating one of the standout songs on the new album. No doubt this has been released as a single! Didn't Yorke collaborate with DJ Shadow at one point ? Feel the sweat of this one-off all over "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors". Acoustic bass is the ideal backbone for the chill out "You And Whose Army?" which also holds some "Karma Police" atmosphere as well as a tad of gospel.

I already said that Amnesiac to me is mainly about sounds, atmospheres, which is the result of producer Nigel Godrich. He has made sure that, at times, the distinctive voice of Yorke is changed by means of electronic gadgets in order to fit the songs better. "I Might Be Wrong" sounds very American with an entertaining guitar riff almost begging you to visit Route 66. Towards the end of the song the style changes completely incorporating country-like guitars. That same approach dwells through "Knives Out," one of the purest examples of a band effort and a strong contender for a great single. It has that Chris Isaacs-sounding guitar all over. "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" is very dreamy, playful, na?ve even including a little toy organ tucked away in the repetitive mood. Where the production is concerned, I sometimes have my doubts, as the middle section of "Dollars And Cents" to me sounds over modulated resulting in a "porridge" of sounds. "Hunting Bears" seems like a collage of studio outtakes, cut and pasted during an elementary course of studio techniques as given away on the back of a packet of cereals. "Like Spinning Plates" is another example of toying around in the studio using tapes playing backwards as the body, over which strings and voice are draped. I even hear the sound of those plastic tubes you had to spin around as fast as you could in order to create weird sounds. Mainly targeted at kids under six, maybe producer Godrich fell over one luminous example in the playroom.

For the final song "Life In A Glasshouse," in steps the Salvation Army in the shape of jazz veteran trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton. The surreal lyrics of Yorke get a New Orleans funeral service in a song which the band apparently has often played during sound checks over the years. The way Thom's brain works he'll be able to sing a song about defrosting fish fingers next and still make it sound interesting! So Amnesiac is in no way a bad album, but then again neither was Kid A if you take the time to really listen to it. Of course critics who suddenly were as enthusiastic about OK Computer as a golddigger finding a fifteen pound nugget are always on the lookout for yet another pop find, thus will probably not even take the time to listen to this album. It's not as easy as it sounds, as this album indeed holds both the "older," more compact Radiohead material and the newer constructions which are purely based on sounds. One thing's for sure however: this is timeless music which will show more of its splendour as time goes by.

See all of the "Pyramid Song" singles at:
See all of the "I Might Be Wrong" singles at:

Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box / Pyramid Song / Pulk-Pull Revolving Doors / You And Whose Army ? / I Might Be Wrong / Knives Out / Morning Bell ? Amnesiac / Dollars And Cents / Hunting Bears / Like Spinning Plates / Life In A Glasshouse

Thom Yorke - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Jonny Greenwood - lead guitar, organ, synthesizer, piano, effects
Ed O'Brien - rhythm guitar, percussion
Colin Greenwood - bass
Phil Selway - drums

Pablo Honey (1993)
The Bends (1995)
OK Computer (1997)
Kid A (2000)
Amnesiac (2001)
I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings (2001)
Hail To The Thief (2003)
In Rainbows (2007)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 21st 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1008
Language: english


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