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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Radiohead's peculiar perfection
Lead singer Thom Yorke
Amnesiac is no more commercial than the recent Kid A
By BBC News Online's Ian Youngs

Take this CD into a darkened room, put on a big pair of headphones, turn the volume up and prepare for a hard slog before you see the light.

Radiohead said this album, their fifth, would be more commercial and more accessible than Kid A.

Don't believe a word of it.

The fact that the first single they chose to release is Pyramid Song, which sounds like pop on heavy medication, should have given the game away.

The guitar quotient is slightly higher than on Kid A, their last album - but any fans expecting a return to the olden days of guitars 'n' angst should buy the new Muse album instead.

Radiohead's third album, Okay Computer, released in 1997
A couple of tracks are reminiscent of the OK Computer sessions
Some songs fit the rock song model, and will relieve those who are afraid that Pyramid Song is as commercial as it gets.

Knives Out sounds like it has been lying forgotten since the OK Computer sessions, while there is hardly a computerised blip to be heard in You and Whose Army? and Morning Bell.

They may placate some die-hard Creep-o-maniacs - but there are many more dimensions waiting to be opened up.

And these dimensions are more interesting places to be.

Like on Kid A, they enjoy employing the artificial beat, the twisted sample and the pressurised, urban background noise to mess things up, savage expectations and define a unique ultra-modern landscape.

Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box is a feverish mix of clinical clicks and doomed beats while Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors is even less tuneful and more interference-fed.

I Might Be Wrong - one of the outstanding tunes - loops a lonely guitar sample to form a haunting and compelling track reminiscent of 1996's Talk Show Host.

Slightly strange

And Dollars & Cents, Hunting Bears and Like Spinning Plates are more of the same.

But stick with it until the final track, Life in a Glasshouse.

Featuring jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton (who the band called in when they were "a bit stuck"), it is what Radiohead do best these days - taking a normal tune and turning it into something slightly strange. Only better.

With a menagerie of instruments including Lyttleton's trumpet and a lazy piano, it has a jazzy tone and a feeling that it is somehow peculiar but somehow perfect.

That phrase could sum up the whole album - and should persuade the band and their fans that their current sound should be seen as a progression, not just a temporary diversion.

Amnesiac is released on 4 June (Parlophone)

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04 Jun 01 | Reviews
Amnesiac: Your views
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