Kid A

Kid A is as different from OK Computer as it could be and still be a Radiohead album. That the band has departed, in three years, from OK Computer‘s sound is no surprise; but the direction now taken is wholly unexpected. Ambient head-trips instead of verse-chorus songs; a keyboard-and-synth-driven sound with few guitars or big stomping beats are completely unexpected and undeniably lovely. The obvious track to fall down and weep on the sidewalk about is “How to Disappear Completely,” a beautiful and frightening song that sounds like trauma slowly healing—which could describe this entire album in relation to OK Computer‘s manic fear and trembling. “I’m not here / this isn’t happening” Thom Yorke repeats, in beatific denial. Radiohead’s failure to reproduce OK Computer may miff us fans who can’t get enough; in a year or so, we’ll be complaining that the next album fails to reproduce Kid A.