Radiohead – Amnesiac
The long, tumultuous recording sessions for Kid A yielded many more songs than the ones that landed on that album. Seeking to avoid a double album, Radiohead decided instead to release another long player only months afterward. Because of this, this second album, Amnesiac, was often derided as “Kid B,” a collection of songs that didn’t fit on the original album because they simply weren’t good enough. While there is some truth in this—many of the more experimental tracks are clearly Kid A rejects—the album is far from an afterthought. In fact, many of the songs here that were left off Kid A for being (relatively) too conventional rank among Radiohead’s best. The haunting “Pyramid Song” finds transcendence amidst its ever-shifting time signatures; “You And Whose Army?” builds to a rousing finish, and “Knives Out” twists a melody from “Paranoid Android” into the closest thing to a pop song the band had done since OK Computer. Elsewhere, the bookending tracks “Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box” and “Life In A Glasshouse”—the former all clattering percussion and mumbled vocals, the latter an emotional jazz number featuring Humphrey Lyttelton and his band—capture Radiohead still pushing the boundaries of their music with excellent results. Still, the more electronic and formless tracks like “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” and “Like Spinning Plates” may sound good in the moment but feel a bit tossed off compared to the accomplished experiments of Kid A. It’s enough to make this one of Radiohead’s more unfocused albums, but the difference here is that even the lesser songs on Amnesiac are interesting enough to make this record more than worthwhile, showcasing the band at some of their most adventurous peaks and indulgent valleys.