Album I can't live without: OK Computer
The album I can't live without
OK, Computer was perhaps the greatest album of the 90s (although classics like Nevermind and Siamese Dream come close). It's the genesis of Radiohead's transformation from angst-ridden Brit-rockers to musical gods of modern alienation.
Thousands of words have been penned already on virtually every aspect of this untouchable album; the sad, sarcastic and sinister imagery evoked by singer Thom Yorke (witness the wheedling politicking of Electioneering, the eerie stalker in Climbing up the Walls and the dreamy escapism of Subterranean Homesick Alien), the soaring guitar work, and the expansive, crisp masterclass that is Nigel Godrich's production.
For me, what makes Radiohead truly special - and is most obvious on this album before Kid A and the turn to more abstract expressions of loneliness - is the sense that they are just as dwarfed by the impersonality of the modern era as the rest of us. 'Fitter, Happier' is the most obvious and haunting indictment of modern banality, but the sentiment is heavily laced throughout the whole of OK. In 'Subterranean' Yorke (as an alien this time) asks "who are these strange creatures who lock up their spirits/drill holes in themselves, and live for their secrets?" and the stunning closer "The Tourist" is a call to listeners and tourists alike; "Hey, man, slow down, slow down."
It's songs like these that, at the same time as they wow the listener with their poignance and beauty, they impress upon you the humanity of the band themselves. It's a realisation that allows you to connect with Radiohead and their music on a deeper, personal level; the destruction of the worship-barrier between artists and audience, and the knowledge that they're people first and musical geniuses second. The idea that they're kindred spirits. As any fellow Radiohead fan will understand, the connection is more important than it seems.
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