Saturday, June 13, 2009

OK Computer

The majestic 'OK Computer', despite being released more than a decade ago, remains Radiohead's indisputable magnum opus and most artistically realised work. This 12-song masterpiece, which did not contain a single dud, was a brilliant, awe-inspiring mixture of classic prog-rock, space-rock, trip-hop, post-punk and guitar-rock, armed with an astonishing number of hitherto undiscovered sonic textures. Elaborate, intense storms of guitars are ably supported by an ever-inventive rhythm section and a magnificent array of piano and keyboard textures, all contributing towards the making of a perfect and certified rock classic.

The syncopated, multi-part 'Paranoid Android' was the big single from here, although the mockingly blissful 'No Surprises', the paranoiac 'Karma Police' and the snarling guitar-rocker 'Airbag' also made significant ripples on charts everywhere. Meanwhile, the despairing 'Exit Music (For a Film)' remains the band's most accomplished Gothic ballad, and the despairing 'The Tourist' is the band's highly disturbing vision of earthly apocalypse.

Elsewhere, 'Let Down' is a blissful lamentation for the loss of innocence amidst the pressures of modern life, while 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' is glistening sci-fi blues, an alien-abduction parable with a twist. The deceptively pleasant, music box-like lullaby 'No Surprises', the roaring, aggressive 'Electioneering' and the menacingly paranoiac 'Climbing Up the Walls' comprise the rest of this masterpiece's flawless running order.

Radiohead will never construct a masterpiece as complete and consummate as 'OK Computer' again, nor can they even try to, especially given the more electronica-oriented direction they have been leaning towards in recent years. This monumental album represents the absolute pinnacle of Radiohead's achievements, and the sound of unadulterated genius at work. If you don't have it, you're missing out on one of the greatest pop-cultural phenomena of recent times.


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