After creating one of the greatest albums of all time with 1997’s OK Computer, Radiohead then explored Electronic territory with the following two albums: Kid A and Amnesiac. After taking these artistic concepts as far as possible, Radiohead went back to basics with this release and guitar-based music in general. It’s a political album as well, with the title of the album referring to the slogan used to describe Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 USA Election. Each song has a subtitle as well as a song title. Many people who have listened to this album have criticised the length of it, including the band. Still, we should listen to this album, particularly as Rock music was beginning to die out around this time, and hopefully, it should be interesting listening.
We begin with 2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm) which begins with a guitar being plugged in, some random chords and some decent arpeggios. It is a good start to the album, and the song title refers to George Orwell’s 1984 novel. The melodies and guitar playing here are really awesome listening, as are the underlying electronic textures. It quickly goes into a brilliant bridge with some delayed guitar parts and top singing from Thom Yorke. In the second half, it becomes super loud and sounds upfront, aggressive and pounding. It goes into some nice guitar overdubs and musicality that shows that Radiohead still had it at this point. A good opener, even if it isn’t memorable for many Radiohead fans.
Coming in next is Sit Down. Stand Up (Snakes and Ladders) which begins with some odd Electronic sounds, some multitracked guitars and xylophone, before going into a piano-driven piece that sounds gorgeous and pulsating with emotion and beauty. A really excellent piece of music to listen to, with Thom Yorke singing: “Welcome to the jaws of hell.” Indeed, this is an underrated and consistent piece of music, it is basically a Rock ballad pulled apart and being put back together again by Radiohead. It does sound really beautiful and emotional, although it is very difficult to figure out what this is about lyrically. In the second half, this song goes into a frenzy of sound and textures with Thom Yorke singing quite beautifully over the top of it all. A varied and interesting listen, and clever too. Good effort.
Sail To The Moon (Brush The Cobwebs Out Of The Sky) begins with matching piano and guitar parts, which are quite pounding. Shortly into it, spacey electronic sounds enter and we get underway on our sonic trip. This is a gorgeous and different piece to listen to, with Thom Yorke singing wonderfully on this song. He makes this piece come truly alive, and it just sounds magnificent listening on this album. A very strong and pretty piece, this is really awesome listening throughout. This was received as a poorer Radiohead effort? It’s doubtful that was the case, songs like these are gorgeous and uplifting. At the end are some delayed Electronics and more piano parts to complete the song nicely. Great effort.
Backdrifts (Honeymoon Is Over) begins with some reversed and original Electronic textures before some odd electric sounds randomly enter. Shortly into it, Electronics and Thom Yorke’s vocals enter and this rather artistic and catchy piece of music gets underway. The lyrics here are really surreal and nonsensical, but that is perfectly fine and acceptable on this record. This song is likely about a relationship breakup (in a strange Radiohead sort of way) and it still sounds like it has very Kid A/Amnesiac based textures on this song. A simple piano part enters in the second half, rather than a loud guitar solo. It is an excellent and wonderful piece of music that sounds very original, unlike anything else out there. The Electronics and beats continue in an extended outro, which is really nice listening. Refreshing song. The ending is rather surprising, listen out for it.
The next song on this album is Go To Sleep (Little Man Being Erased) which begins with some very beautiful acoustic guitars and bass guitar parts before Thom Yorke gets singing away very well. This is a bit shorter at over three minutes long. Pounding drumbeats enter, which are driving and show that Radiohead had variety with their instrumentation. Around halfway through, a different sort of groove emerges and this excellent tune gets danceable. The hooks and melodies on this track are very different and quite original listening. Towards the end is some processed guitar parts, which sound really wonderful. Nice tune guys.
Following up is Where I End and You Begin (The Sky Is Falling In) which begins with science fiction styled Electronic sounds, which almost sound like a theremin. Clanging bass guitar and some brilliant drums follow, launching this song into Thom Yorke’s despaired vocals. This is another very good song that is intelligent and well constructed, although this one is quite much more like traditional Rock music. A very different and interesting listening experience, this sounds like surreal music for our postmodern dystopia of the world that we live in today. Radiohead wasn’t just trying new things, it seems that they had intelligent and futuristic reasons for making the music that they did. There is some catchy singing in the background towards the end, and this piece is catchy all the way to the finish. Excellent work, the vocal: “I’ll eat you alive” is revealed at the end, before concluding. Excellent work.
We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up) begins with some rather moody piano parts with some bass guitar parts to match. Thom Yorke’s vocals enter, as does handclaps and this piece of music gets underway. It’s a really creepy and odd-sounding piece of music, especially in retrospect. To be fair, this is a little too slow but this is not a hugely bad thing. The album, even with its lesser tracks, progresses nicely and sounds interesting enough to impress oneself. In the second half, this song changes completely and goes into a much more frenzied breakdown, before quickly returning back to the super slow ballad. This could have been edited somewhat, but nonetheless, this still sounds very good to this day. A very good effort, but just falling short of a great effort on this album.
The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths In The Cold) begins with some interesting flanger cut up Electronic sounds, some subsonic basslines (yes, you read that correctly) and some other unusual percussion to enjoy. Singing begins and this piece sounds like a soul searching styled piece of vocal effort by Thom Yorke. This is a clever and different piece of artistic work, just sounding as good as the other cuts on this album. It is an impressive and surreal piece of artistry, at only three and a half minutes long. It finishes with more Electronic sounds that are very much indescribably original, before concluding with the bassline alone. Decent listen.
Next along is There, There (The Boney King Of Nowhere) which begins with some Nine Inch Nails The Fragile styled instrumentation, notably with the drums and percussion. A very catchy guitar riff then enters into this piece of music which drives things along, and Thom Yorke sings whimsically and beautifully on this song. This is no doubt one of the highlights of this very good album. The instrumentation here is a wonderful piece of combined sound that is highly artistic and a real pleasure to listen to. The beats and percussion sound really driving, linking up with the guitars and different melodic sections for full effect. The only issue with this song? A little long, but asides from that, this is excellent music by Radiohead. In the second half, it launches into an odd guitar solo before bridging back into the rest of the song. A gloriously good piece of musicality and instrumentation, this sounds incredibly wonderful. Nice effort by Radiohead.
Following up is I Will (No Man’s Land) begins with some clean guitar parts and Thom Yorke singing calmly over the top. This is a two-minute-long piece that isn’t the very best on the album, yet still sounds wonderfully crafted and terrific. It’s a bit weird sounding, but still fitting in with the album and overall music feel. Good job Radiohead.
A Punch Up at a Wedding (No no no no no no no no) begins with some sparse Electronic textures, a catchy bassline and some excellent piano. Thom Yorke sings with some good harmonies over the banging piano sounds. This song is one of the better pieces of music from this album and just sounds really amazing and unique. A wonderful listening experience, it has some crunchy guitar and some other gloriously wonderful treatment of sounds here for your listening. This is a strange one lyrically, as it is difficult to find the meaning of this song. The song has a long outro with some great riffs and sounds that are forward-thinking. Excellent work.
Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury and Executioner) has some heavy fuzz bass and some excellent drum beats. Before long, Thom Yorke gets singing across the top of it very nicely. There are some different lyrics and some atonal sounding vocals on this song. The sounds and textures here, although very Electronic, are very Rock oriented in terms of structure. This is another excellent cut from this album and is a great example of variety and musicality that makes an impact upon the listener. A very good listen, it ends with some spacey keyboard sounds.
The next track is Scatterbrain (As Dead As Leaves) which begins with some lovely guitar parts, before going straight into a pretty piece of melodic Pop/Rock. This is a really excellent listening experience. Thom Yorke delivers one of his best vocals from this album on this song, he sounds really amazing and interesting on this song. A good and interesting listen, some of the textures and treatment on the instrumentation are really excellent, no doubt about it. This piece sounds very fresh and gorgeous and finishes with some awesome drum sounds. Mint.
The last song on this album is A Wolf At The Door (It Girl. Rag Doll) which begins with some interesting keyboards, acoustic guitars and some lovely and pretty sounds. There is some stream of consciousness style lyrics, which are very different to listen to here. A consistent listening experience, this is how you finish off a Rock album. A very good listening experience, some awesome harmonies finish off this song. Very nice.
This is another fantastically worked on and delivered Radiohead album, which shows the group continuing to break down musical barriers and deliver a fine piece of artistic work to listen to. Some fans have dismissed this album as being too lengthy and inconsistent, yet that is not true of this record. It is another classic piece by the group that should make it into the history books. A post Electronic piece of wonderful Rock music, Radiohead have succeeded well on this album. A great listen from start to finish.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey