Album Of The Week – In Rainbows Disc 2 / Radiohead

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Yep, this was released back in 2007, but has made a surprise release on streaming services. The timing is odd, but then again, Radiohead have been significantly more generous when it comes to Apple Music and Spotify recently. It’s also going to be good news for anyone that had no idea this existed – I’d owned In Rainbows for at least a year before finding out there was a second disk. As the title suggests, it’s a continuation of In Rainbows, but has an off-cuts compilation style. That’s not to say these songs are any less good, some of the songs on here, specifically ‘Go Slowly’ and ‘Four Minute Warning’ could have easily replaced a song like ‘Faust Arp’ on disc 1 (the song does nothing for me). It emphasises a creative peak for Radiohead, as always they were overflowing with songs, but it’s hard to find a weak link on In Rainbows, plus it actually sounds like a band that were having fun for the first time in their career. There were no limits by their label, who they’d cut themselves off from, there was the entire ‘pay-what-you-want’ innovation, and nobody had any idea where they would go after the musical collage of Hail To The Thief. In response, they combined the more electronic elements that made up Kid A and Amnesiac with the rock side of HTTF. If anything, Disc 2 gave Radiohead the option to go slightly experimental again, with ambient interludes that recall ‘Treefingers’ spliced with snippets of the In Rainbows sessions. It’s hugely underrated, but maybe it’ll receive some more attention now that it is on a broader platform.

‘Last Flowers’ could have been ‘Videotape’, easily. It’s breathtaking in the same way, incorporating an acoustic guitar over Thom Yorke and a piano – essentially revisiting the ‘How I Made My Millions’ style. In Rainbows is interesting because it was infinitely less political than their last few albums, but didn’t go back to the personal side of Pablo Honey or The Bends because Yorke was also bringing in the more leftfield style that scattered Kid A and Amnesiac. He marries ‘appliances have gone berserk’ with a line so simple as ‘You can offer me escape’ (it’s actually hard to tell whether it’s ‘can’ or ‘can’t’). Yorke can often write songs that require interpretation and reading into, but he also has a knack for a simple line in the middle of more wordy verses, and it can stand out hugely – in a very good way. It’s a shame that songs like ‘Last Flowers’ don’t get the proper album treatment, but in a strange way, isn’t it more exciting to stumble upon ‘Last Flowers’ whilst combing YouTube for lost recordings? Maybe that’s the appeal of being a Radiohead fan, you’ve never found all the gems, there’s always another live version you haven’t heard yet.

‘Bangers + Mash’ and ‘Go Slowly’ will be familiar to anyone who watched the Basement session Radiohead did for In Rainbows and The King Of Limbs. ‘Bangers + Mash’ is the one where Yorke actually plays drums alongside Phil Selway whilst Jonny Greenwood gets the chance to properly rock out once again. ‘Go Slowly’ is the tearjerker where Jonny Greenwood plays those crystalline piano notes. Both show how Radiohead really could go where they wanted to at this point and were under no obligation to either write a scathing political electronic freak-out or a back-to-the-basics rock songDisc 2 serves best as a slowed-down EP that blooms on the piano-based tracks, of which there are plenty. Arguably the guitar works better on ‘Up On The Ladder’ than ‘Bangers + Mash’, despite the emphasis on the distorted sharp teeth of ‘Bangers’. It sounds more menacing on ‘Up On The Ladder’ and with Colin Greenwood’s bass much more prominent it becomes scary. Yorke paints life as a game of snakes and ladders, and I think when he says he’s a puppet, he imagines someone is playing with him in the game, it’s never his choice as to where he goes next, as someone much higher always has the dice. The song could have easily slotted onto Hail To The Thief.

It’s an interesting mini-album/EP. It was the first and last time that Radiohead attempted to do something like this, and that’s interesting. Of course many bands write songs for albums that don’t end up making the cut, but if they are ‘good’, then why not release them in some other form. The only other band I can think of off the top of my head that did something similar was Modest Mouse’s Interstate 8 and Building Something Out Of Nothing. But this feels more meticulous than just a compilation of songs from an era, it sounds like a continuation, and maybe this ‘Disc 2’ system has been overshadowed by the other innovation that Radiohead presented when releasing In Rainbows. Should every band release another mini-album a couple of months after the original with more songs from the session? Probably not, but in the case of bands that are prolific and/or consistently write good songs, it could be the case. Disc 2 is one of the best non-album collections that Radiohead have released, an essential part of what could be considered their We-Have-Nothing-Left-To-Prove trilogy of In Rainbows, The King Of Limbs and A Moon Shaped Pool. Also, while we’re on the subject of In Rainbows, listen to ‘Videotape’ backwards, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Funnel Recommends: Go Slowly / Last Flowers / Up On The Ladder

New Music – Modern Act / Cloud Nothings

Dylan Baldi is one of those indie-rock musicians that graduated from bedroom-rock-pop act into something much more intense and physical, especially their 2012 album Attack On Memory, which was worlds away from songs like ‘Forget You All The Time’. Since then, Baldi has recruited an even fuller band, and on ‘Modern Act’ attempts to bridge some of the intensity of the last two records with their poppy side. It seems directly descended from 90s rock, from the breezy, jangly opening guitar chords and quiet-loud-quiet formula. Baldi criticises the ‘modern act’, he feels like living is just being overwhelmed by everything, gods and wars and ‘count your friends’. It’s not like he’s given up though, he wants a life, it’s just a completely unattainable ideal. It’s a switchup from the last record, and much more enjoyable for it.

Album Of The Week – Night On The Sun / Modest Mouse

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A Night On The Sun is neither a new release or an album, but has been reissued by Isaac Brock’s label, Glacial Pace. It was initially a precursor to their third album, The Moon And Antarctica, and fittingly covers the same topics that Brock and co. were into at the time, mostly space and humanity. They had evolved from the punkiness of The Lonesome Crowded West and had added more layers to their music, incorporating the acoustic guitar that would fill up Brock’s first (and only) solo album as Ugly Casanova. It doesn’t have the same forceful impact; Isaac Brock doesn’t strain his vocals as much as he did on ‘Shit Luck’, but instead of shouting his words through, he has to sharpen them to have more of an impression. ‘You were the dull sound of sharp math when you were alive / no one’s gonna play the harp when you die’ springs to mind on the otherwise peaceful ‘Lives’, which brings the acoustic guitar right to the front. Modest Mouse had done this before, both with acoustic guitar and banjo, but those were moments of quiet like ‘Bankrupt On Selling’, not these drops of knowledge and criticism.

It’s confusing how the lead song didn’t end up on The Moon And Antarctica, and even though it comes in at 9 and a half minutes, an edited version didn’t show up either, which is strange as it has some of the strongest imagery Brock has ever come up with: ‘Freeze your blood and then stab it into, in two / Stab your blood into me and blend’ and ‘There’s one thing to know about this earth / We’re put here just to make more dirt and that’s okay’. Simultaneously, Modest Mouse conquer the otherworldly questions and the most basic human needs. The ‘blood’ might seem like an unusual metaphor, but the references to blood, stabbing and merging are ways of voicing a desire to be close to someone else, so close that you are literally the blood running through their veins; blood that is a combination of theirs and yours. ‘Night On The Sun’ might be the most traditional Modest Mouse song on the EP, with the ambling guitar line, crescendos and Jeremiah Green’s drumming.

It’s probably key to remember that A Night On The Sun was initially just a demo tape for Modest Mouse’s new major label Epic, so the 18 second track of Jeremiah Green speaking Japanese, or the inferior version of ‘Lives’, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. ‘Wild Pack Of Family Dogs’ is exactly the same, but both the title track and ‘You’re The Good Things’ got left off The Moon And Antarctica. Therefore, it’s a mish-mash, like a lot of Modest Mouse EPs tend to be. There’s so many, with so much crossover that they sometimes seem like tying up loose ends, which is probably what they are. But often there are gems in the middle, like the title track of this EP, or ‘Summer’ on The Fruit That Ate Itself. 

Funnel Recommends: Night On The Sun / You’re The Good Things / Lives

New Music – Silent Movie Susie / The Big Moon

The Big Moon have quietly been building up their selection of singles, and mostly they haven’t lost any quality since the first track they ever released: ‘Eureka Moment’. ‘Silent Movie Susie’ is missing something, maybe it’s ‘Cupid’s grandness or the rockiness of ‘Sucker’, but it definitely lacks something. Along with ‘Cupid’, it is their most radio-ready, but then again, the Big Moon have always been a band with bigger aspirations than underground success. If it lacks something, it does not lack ‘whoos’. The Big Moon are a whoo-worthy band, and if you’ve come for whoos, ‘Silent Movie Susie’ has got them to spare. The song has come in the middle of summer, so when they sing ‘Come back for the summer’, it feels like the kind of breezy pop they’ve just been waiting to release. The Big Moon are starting to develop their own sound; you know the sound of that organ in the background, you know the whoos are coming.

New Music – Um Chagga Lagga / Pixies

Pixies are back again with a new bassist, Paz Lenchantin, who doesn’t try to fill Kim Deal’s shoes and instead comes across as a more aggressive and frantic backing vocalist to Black Francis’ howling. The song is strange, as per normal for Pixies. The lyrics are like some kind of story where the protagonist is being chased, and from the sirens, it sounds like the police. Then there’s the chorus of ‘Um Chagga Lagga by the side of the road’ and ‘All night long I heard you moan’, which doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It’s not unusual for Pixies to incorporate sex and violence into their lyrics, and their holy trinity of sex, violence and religion is just one ‘holy fingers’ reference away. The instrumentation is a little basic, but the guitar tone is so clunky and heavy that it’s kind of endearing.

Album Of The Week – Puberty 2 / Mitski

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Mitski’s last album, the wonderfully titled Bury Me At Makeout Creek, was something of a breakout, but the equally wonderfully-titled fourth album from the songwriter will arguably be her biggest release yet. The two teaser tracks, ‘Your Best American Girl’ and ‘Happy’ showed both her ability for anthemic rock and guitar-pop with the kind of jagged guitars, horns and synthetic drums that covered St. Vincent’s last album. Both of those singles were also heartfelt and self-examining. On ‘Your Best American Girl’, Mitski drew comparisons between not being able to fit into a relationship and not being able to fit into the projected aspirations of what the ‘American Girl’ should be, something that Mitski Miyawaki has a firsthand experience with. And then on ‘Happy’, Miyawaki breaks down happiness and the knowledge that even in a time of bliss, you’re always thinking what misery will hit next. But it isn’t a negative song, from the lyric of ‘And if you’re going take the moon / Then maybe I will see you’, because even if she isn’t happy, then she knows happiness will happen again and the moon will remind her of that.

I’m consistently knocked back by Mitski’s talents as a lyricist, which has come on in leaps and bounds since Bury Me At Makeout Creek. On ‘A Loving Feeling’, where Mitski describes a relationship disintegrating instead of breaking apart suddenly, and it’s heartbreaking. It goes from ‘Holding hands under the table / meeting up in your bedroom’ to ‘Making love to other people / telling each other its all good’ in an instant, and then the chorus of ‘what do you do with a loving feeling / if the loving feeling makes you all alone’. It’s almost as if she’s trying to trick herself into thinking that the feeling she’s experiencing is what any couple go through, and isn’t sure if it’s just normal, so she’s stuck in limbo. Then on ‘Dan The Dancer’, which could be about societal anxiety, but there’s definitely a sexual side to the last verse: ‘It was you and you alone / that he had shown his bedroom dance routine’ and ‘He would never tell you it was his first time’, presenting this character as someone so anxious that they can’t open up to anyone, but there’s a special person who he allows to see his dancing. Mitski has a knack for writing songs that are very easy to pick up on and are instantly relatable. She’s writing about things anyone can get their head around: relationships developing, relationships crumbling, sexuality, anxiety, happiness. And it’s all in a brief 30 minutes.

The genre-bending makes Mitski hard to pin down, and all to the better of it. There’s a fuzz-folky style on ‘My Body’s Made From Crushed Little Stars’, trendy snap-drums on ‘Thursday Girl’ and indie-rock on ‘Dan The Dancer’. It never sounds incoherent because Mitski’s at the centre of it all. It’s pop and it’s DIY, all at once. It’s heavy and it’s light, all at once. Maybe that’s the beauty of the internet and the breakdown of genre and trendiness. We have people like Grimes and Mitski taking advantage of all the sounds they can get their hands on, and why not? If they have access to it, why not make use of it whilst keeping the eccentricities of the individual to separate it from the rest of the pack? I like how Puberty 2 is all-encompassing; it sums up everything that’s important.

Funnel Recommends: Happy / Your Best American Girl / A Loving Feeling

Track Review – Dark Necessities / Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Peppers have a love/hate relationship with critics and fans. They can often come across as comical and goofy, especially with their early material, and when they decide to put on their serious faces it comes in the form of flabby, long concept albums like Stadium Arcadium or their most recent album, I’m With You, of which I can’t remember any of the singles. ‘Dark Necessities’ is unfortunately very similar to that last album, in that the Peppers have gone bland again, if you can believe that. They fall back onto their comfort blanket of funk-rock at the beginning, which is actually quite interesting and danceable, before a forgettable chorus comes along, even though Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics ‘You don’t know my kind / Dark necessities are part of my design’ steers clear the awkward lyrics of the verses: ‘We got many moons than a deeper place / So I keep an eye on the shadow’s smile / To see what it has to say’.

At this point, Flea’s bass is unmatched, but when they insert it at the beginning of the track – popping out all over the place – it feels more like fan service than actually expressing a funky new bassline to offer. To give them credit, it’s the funkiest they’ve been in a while and Kiedis actually singing and totally rapping serves him well. People are still going to be sour about Josh Klinghoffer as guitarist and not John Frusciante, but he’s not a bad guitarist by any means and his work outside the Peppers in Warpaint and Cate Le Bon’s band has only provided more experience and refinement for the replacement guitarist. Not bad by any means, but completely colourless.

Classic Review – One Beat / Sleater-Kinney

SK_coversSleater-Kinney have so many classic albums it’s almost impossible to pick just one. We could have gone for Call The Doctor, their breakthrough punk blueprint, the epic Dig Me Out or the more experimental The Woods, but it’s One Beat that strikes the biggest chord with us. It’s often characterised as Sleater-Kinney’s most political record, and it definitely is that, but as guitarist Carrie Brownstein points out in her autobiography ‘an exploration of faithlessness, of trying to uncover hope or meaning in a time that was very, very bleak’. These emotions were intrinsically linked with the political nature of the album, with many connecting the feelings that Brownstein, guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker and drummer Janet Weiss to the fallout of 9/11. There are pointed jabs at the Bush administration, but they come in equal measure with the localised impact of the perspective, post 9/11. It’s probably quite hard to exactly replicate the same vulnerability that many Americans felt at this time, especially for us on the other side of the Atlantic, but Sleater-Kinney perfectly word those feelings.

One Beat catches Sleater-Kinney mid-experimentalism. They’re caught between their punky beginnings, which was emphasised by their previous album, All Hands On The Bad One, but also where they would continue on The Woods. For that reason, it belongs more in their late renaissance along with The Woods, with their new political commentary battling with their grassroots social commentary that established them as a feminist band that outlived much of the early Riot Grrl punk that dominated the early ’90s. A track like ‘Far Away’ is an example of how they made the personal political. Tucker sings ‘And the president hides / While working men rush in / And give their lives’ right alongside ‘I look to the sky / And ask it not to rain / On my family tonight’. Tucker brings in her new experience of motherhood into a song that might have been a cold criticism, going right where so many punk bands go wrong. Usually, political criticism is all well and good, but it can be more like the band is hitting you over the head with their message. Sleater-Kinney blur the line between what is political and the more personal aspects that dominated early songs like ‘One More Hour’. One Beat shows Sleater-Kinney experimenting with sound as well as lyrical styles. On ‘Oh!’ there’s an infectious synth that runs deep into the chorus and separates it from being simply another Sleater-Kinney song. Similarly, on ‘Step Aside’, it’s the most dancey Sleater-Kinney get, without even digging back into the synth again. They use horns, which you wouldn’t associate with Sleater-Kinney at all, but they completely pull it off. This is one punk band that wasn’t a stranger to developing their sound with instruments and genres that other punk bands would turn their nose up at.

Elements of The Woods begin to bleed through on tracks like ‘Funeral Song’ and ‘Light Rail Coyote’, which is The Woods in all but Dave Fridmann’s intense but ultimately exceptional production. On ‘Light Rail Coyote’, an ode to their new home of Portland, they open with riffs that wouldn’t go amiss from a Led Zeppelin album, plus the coda at the end which has Tucker and Brownstein demanding ‘Oh dirty river, come let me in’ in unison. The most memorable moment in the song is Brownstein and Tucker sharing the outro together, where Brownstein goes into one of her killer moments where she spits out a bunch of great lyrics at high speed – ‘And if you wanna be a friend of mine / Cross the river to the east side / Find me on the eve of suicide / Tell me the city is no place to hide’. One Beat unfortunately does not get the ballad treatment that Dig Me Out (‘One More Hour’), The Hot Rock (‘The Size Of Our Love’) and All Hands On The Bad One (‘The Swimmer’) gets, but the closest it gets is ‘Funeral Song’, which ends up as a burning rocker. Possibly the reason that One Beat doesn’t get the ballad treatment is the themes of faithlessness that it tries to get across. Whereas previously, these ballads would be a moment of peace and happiness in the face of despair, like the heartbreaking ‘The Size Of Our Love’, there is no chance to catch your breath on One Beat. It has faithlessness, but the flickers of hope aren’t enough to inspire another quiet moment. One Beat has an unease and a confusion about it that no other Sleater-Kinney albums have, and that’s often why it’s accredited as their political album.

One Beat is so often the black sheep in Sleater-Kinney’s career. It finds itself in the middle of their past and their future, drawing inspiration from both and finding confusion in the happiness of Tucker’s new family arriving simultaneously with the war on terror. Those conflicting emotions result in one of the post-9/11 albums that truly summed up the feelings after the attack when so many wondered about the emotions during it. The aftermath was far worse, as Sleater-Kinney can attest to, and their hopelessness is made worse by the popular support for the tyrannical administration that profited from it afterwards. We all know how it ends, but this is an important document of what happened in between. It’s not the most immediate Sleater-Kinney album, but it is one of the most necessary.

Funnel Recommends: One Beat / Light Rail Coyote / Hollywood Ending

Album Review – Human Performance / Parquet Courts

d5a30e2eParquet Courts have quietly been refining their sound since 2014’s Sunbathing Animal, deviating from the breakneck punk of Light Up Gold and Tally All The Things You Broke EP to somewhere in the middle of mid-tempo cowpunk or stretched out indie-rock such as ‘Pretty Machines’ from 2014’s criminally underrated Content Nausea. As you might have guessed if you didn’t know already, Parquet Courts are a prolific band. With every release they press new buttons, sometimes coming across gold like Content Nausea and other times not-so-good projects such as last years’ Monastic Living EP. This new album has already been greeted as the new great step forward for Parquet Courts. And it is. They still dabble in highfalutin concepts (their frontman Andrew Savage has talked about his thoughts on ‘human performance’ in several interviews) but their sound has opened up into a more nuanced performance, with keys, other vocalists, synths and sometimes even less violent guitar-playing. In fact, the two bands that Parquet Courts now resemble is a punkier R.E.M. or the Velvet Underground (Compare ‘Steady On My Mind’ with ‘Lady Godiva’s Operation’). It’s a perfect little niche to find themselves in, still writing the occasional furious punk song but then slotting a laid-back pop song into the mix. Parquet Courts have found their home, even if they might not stay there long.

The singles boded well for Human Performance. ‘Dust’ was a shuffling rocker with the introduction of keys and a minimalistic portrait of crushing anxiety and claustrophobia, something Parquet Courts are well versed in at this point. Then ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ came along, all spaghetti-western and stream-of-consciousness ramblings by Savage, as he rifles through typically wordy lyrics such as ‘Döner wrapper done right / An extinguished crutch of a rollie inside yellow fingers’, but the verse ending of ‘Berlin got blurry and my heart started hurting for you’ was an unusually direct show of emotion from Savage. Finally, ‘Human Performance’ arrived, with further examples of Savage opening up further with lyrics like ‘I told you I loved you / Did I even deserve it when you returned it’. ‘Human Performance’, the song, drifts between his confessions of love and him playing at a gig, which ties in with the theme of ‘human performance’. Savage previously questioned whether performing can pass as authentic expression if it isn’t a faithful representation of the person performing. This thinking is translated into his love life, where he sings ‘phantom affection gives a human performance’ as if he’s tricking himself into performing a natural human routine – relationships and so on – in order to convince himself he’s living a normal life. If in previous albums, Savage and co-songwriter Austin Brown have explored anxiety, then this is a completely new chapter. They don’t announce it as directly as they did before, but it’s implicitly there.

There’s instrumental expansion as well as lyrical expansion. Parquet Courts have been known for their punky side, but never before have they incorporated so much extra stuff into their sound. Often those extra instruments is what makes the song memorable, for example ‘Dust’ is the organ/keys song (it also features Jeff Tweedy on guitar as a bonus), ‘One Man No City’ is the bongos song and ‘Captive Of The Sun’ is the creepy glockenspiel song, or at least that’s what we think it is; it could easily be a synth. ‘Captive Of The Sun’ gets the award for best song on Human Performance because it combines Parquet Courts’ knack for words with instrumental oddities and sounds that they haven’t played with before. Austin Brown, who takes on vocal duties on more songs than ever, spits out rapid-fire surreal imagery like ‘Half-tone harmony from the sewer’ and ‘Trucks pave the roads with amphetamine salt’. After Content Nausea, which had songs that lived and breathed New York, ‘Captive Of The Sun’ could’ve slotted straight onto that mini-LP. Many would describe the sights of New York, but Brown turns it into a clattering orchestra of sounds from the sewer, the smashing of glass, the train, dogs barking. It’s uplifting and uneasy at the same time, as Brown opens with ‘My misophonia’, or his hatred of sound.

Human Performance is the best Parquet Courts album without a doubt. It’s another tightly written and performed album, but this time there’s more variation in the performance, a twist on their typical subject matter and more input from bassist Sean Yeaton, who sings on ‘I Was Just Here’, and Brown, who is credited with playing the car* in the credits. It’s more of a band and less of Andrew Savage running the show. That’s not to say he’s not the frontman anymore, he’s just pulling the strings behind the scenes and organising the sound of the album. Just when the band were beginning to sound a little tired and stale, they’ve vastly improved upon the experimentation of Content Nausea and Monastic Living into a perfect sweet spot upon which their older material is buried into the fibres of the new songs, but there’s so much more to offer here from the repetitive nature of Sunbathing Animal. They can only go upwards from here.

8

Funnel Recommends: Human Performance / Captive Of The Sun / Berlin Got Blurry

*Correction: It is Andrew Savage who ‘plays’ the car.

Classic Review – OK Computer / Radiohead

81ni71zIxIL._SL1406_Radiohead’s visual companion to OK Computer was Meeting People Is Easy, an hour and a half of Radiohead making their way around the world, introduced to so many cultures and people, but constantly on the edge of mental breakdown. You could almost get irritated at their vocalist, Thom Yorke, as he gets fed up accepting awards, playing their old song ‘Creep’ and travelling the world yet not able to slow down enough to enjoy it. That’s the crux of OK Computer. It’s about loneliness in crowded places, the technological isolation of the new millennium, the zombified masses accepting false cures to pre-constructed illnesses. It’s utterly miserable… and it’s gone 5x platinum in the UK. It wasn’t simply a matter of right place at the right time. Yes, it did coincide with New Labour coming to power in the UK and whilst Noel Gallagher was shaking hands with Tony Blair and there was an atmosphere of optimism, Radiohead presented the situation as ‘The old government have been replaced by the same one’. It also preceded many of the post-9/11 statements by bands who feared a tyrannical government using fear to enforced their own agenda. It was way ahead of its time, and it’s also lost in time. There’s elements of prog-rock in there (Dark Side Of The Moon was banded about as an influence), the electronic music that the band would later dabble further in on Kid A, and the alternative rock sound was punctuated with whatever else they could lay their hands on. It’s a strange, weird, excellent and multi-layered album.

There are so many tracks on OK Computer which have been called Radiohead’s best songs: the proggy, twisted ‘Paranoid Android’, the tension-and-release of ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ or their more chart-worthy ‘Karma Police’, which is still astounding if you think about it. It has lyrics about Hitler hairdos and a man who buzzes like a fridge, completely contradicting the warm chord progressions. Our money, however, is on ‘Climbing Up The Walls’. It’s undoubtedly the creepiest track that Radiohead have ever made, and that’s counting ‘Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors’. The sounds that Radiohead create are somewhere in the middle of industrial and noise-rock, but the creepiness comes in Yorke’s voice. He’s not a technically proficient singer, but he’s always been able to contort his voice to the needs of the song, whether that’s his endearing howl on ballads or on ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, where he sounds like the wailing mental patient that he takes the perspective of. He sings ‘We are friends till we die’ and ‘Tuck the kids in safe tonight / and shut the eyes in the cupboard’, almost like a horror movie where there’s always someone over your shoulder. I don’t even think that Yorke is personifying the fear that the parent feels. The creepiest thing is that there doesn’t even need to be a serial killer coming for the parent – it’s the paranoia that will kill them. When he sings ‘Either way you turn / I’ll be there’, it’s not even a threat, it’s a fact that the mental illness will be there, even if the hallucinations aren’t. As any good horror film will show you, the fear of the audience comes from the unknown; not seeing the monster at all. That fear and paranoia is ten times worse than anything that the special effects department can dream up. The fact that the entire song occurs in their own home is the worse part. The home is meant to be a safehouse against the evil of the outside world and even if the physical evils cannot get in, the mental evils cannot be stopped.

It’s ‘Let Down’ that most matches the mood of Yorke and Meeting People Is Easy. He opens by reeling off ‘Transport, motorways and tramlines, starting and then stopping’ as the beautiful arpeggiated guitars soar around him. He combines the numbness of travel and success with ‘sentimental drivel’, his anger at being sold emotion by companies looking to make a profit off his emotions, only for him to be let down by the final product. Though Radiohead are often criticised for being miserable, ‘Let Down’ shows Yorke’s want to feel emotion, but it’s interrupted by the media trying to compete with what he ‘should’ be feeling for what he ‘could’ be feeling. The dual guitarists – Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien don’t get enough credit for how much they compliment each other, with Greenwood often taking ‘right-hand-man’ status for his ability to write sheet-metal industrial rock like ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ climax and then write something like ‘Let Down’s arpeggios, which he intertwines with O’Brien. ‘Paranoid Android’ is where the instrumental side of the band get a chance to outshine Yorke for once, beginning with the lonely guitar working its path through Phil Selway’s nimble drums. Jonny Greenwood takes over for the two guitar solos that completely obliterate anything in their path, but Ed O’Brien then joins Yorke for the goosebump-inducing bridge. Yorke wails out ‘The panic, the vomit / the panic, the vomit / god loves his children’. The unconventional structure sets it apart from the rest of the album, purposefully disjointed to tear up what might have been a good but unmemorable song. It’s prog-rock in the best possible way.

For an album that’s often a gateway to rock music, OK Computer is a multi-layered experience that reveals something new with every listen. Even the more subtle tracks like ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ and ‘The Tourist’ have some of the most interesting lyrics even if they can’t compete with ‘Electioneering’ or ‘Let Down’ instrumentally. OK Computer is perhaps the last great example of a rock band at their peak simultaneously rallying for and against that innovation. It has a sound about it that recalls Dark Side Of The Moon or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Much like the car crash Yorke recalls on ‘Airbag’, the entire album is something painful that you can’t bear not to look at, because it’s so bright and dazzling. Though it tracks mental breakdown, loneliness and technology replacing human contact, it’s impossible not to listen and think how current it remains. Since OK Computer Radiohead tore up the rulebook further by releasing Kid A (The ‘connoisseurs’ best Radiohead album) and In Rainbows, which extended their innovation beyond the music and into the way that the music is delivered. It’s an album that stuck out like a sore thumb as Britpop was dying a painful death and grunge had become a fashion accessory, but that’s what has allowed it to age so well. OK Computer fears what it can’t touch – the paranoia, the government, the corporations, the technology. It’s the lack of contact that is breaking the world apart, Yorke fears, and we’re all falling for it.

Funnel Recommends: Paranoid Android / Exit Music (For A Film) / Climbing Up The Walls