Radiohead - OK Computer
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
By Tony BonyataAliens, isolation and paranoia. Hardly the stuff of greatness, but the Oxford, England rock act Radiohead manage to use these subjects quite successfully in creating not only a totally fresh sound, but also do it in a fashion which favors organic rock instruments, tape loops and dusty mellotrons over the current techno-electronica rage.
OK Computer, Radiohead's third and strongest album to date, is both ethereal and atmospheric in scope as the music hovers over singer Thom Yorke's eye-of-the-hurricane vocals which creates an almost eerie, out-of-body experience.
On the song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" Yorke longs to be swooped up by the "aliens up above making home movies for the folks back home" and on "Lucky" he emits an unnerving, sense of calm as he sings "Kill me again...with love, it's gonna be a glorious day".
Songs such as "Airbag" and "Electioneering" shows that the band can flex their muscles and pump out a gritty number when needed, but the beauty of this album lies in it's more fragile numbers such as the hypnotic "Climbing Up The Walls", "Let Down" with it's longing and hopeful melody and Jonny Greenwood's innocent, child-like guitar line on "No Surprises".
On what could be one of the finest songs of 1997, the epic "Paranoid Android" unfurls itself out in the fashion of a three-act play. Opening up with a simple guitar and airy rhythm, Yorke's high droning voice gives an uneasy, other-world feel to the song before exploding into a psychotic, schizoid piece of hard rock delirium. This leads into a self-reflecting, mesmerizing piece, complete with Gregorian-esque chanting and complex harmonizing, which then blows into the now familiar second act of guitar mayhem.
Warm and angelic at times and callously cold and distant at others, Radiohead is, nonetheless, one of the most intriguing bands to emerge in the past few years.
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