Radiohead - OK Computer
Jul 3, 2019 (updated Jul 3, 2019)
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This is the reason why I fell in love with Radiohead at first. This was the boss on that crappy PSP videogame that wouldn't let you win at any cost. This is a #1 for many and I can surely see (hear?) why. We're on 1997. People weren't expecting a sound like this. I can imagine buying this album thinking that you would get a raw, grungy project (given their previous release) and after just the first track you would wonder "Oh boy, how wrong was I?". You would get sad at first because it's not that violent rock hits compilation, but then you'd embrace the spirit of the full album experience and find this sound even more erosive and unsettling than "The Bends" or whatever. But, in the end, did they change that much in 2 years? The answer is yes. The british group reinvented itself completely with the help of the amazing producer Nigel Godrich. The production sure is exceptional (especially the mixing), giving the album a very crystal-clear aura, but also the song-writing improved drastically. It's like the group knew they were doing something that would change the rock game forever and, yet, they didn't try to sound as something they weren't. "OK Computer" is overflowing with pure honest and sincere emotion (that's probably why some people find it too overly dramatic). Another problem some point out is Thom's voice. In my opinion, his voice fits perfectly and depicts his unsettling lyrics in an amazing way.

First track, "Airbag". Great opener, since it encapsulates the whole album sound pretty well: electronic drum beat loops that decompose the electric guitars to their core when their put against each other. Except for that bass-driven bridge melting with the opening riff, the track doesn't really go anywhere far, but the instrumental dynamism is very rewarding.

"Paranoid Android" is refered by many as their best song and one of the best songs of the 90's/ever. This song is an entire journey by itself. Starting with the chords of an acoustic guitar and some jangly electric guitar licks, it eventually turns into a beast with an ear-worming riff on the chorus. I love the way the distorted lead guitar isn't raw in the mix, but can be extremely fiery and corrosive anyways. Again, brilliant production. The song shifts into an acoustic bridge with some choral arrangements, paving the way to Thom's defeated voice and dystopian lyrics. Excellent track.

"Subterranean Homesick Alien" is the follow-up to a beast, so it was already kind of condemned at the start. Yet, the track delivers some engaging lyrics about a man who wants to be abducted by aliens. The drum-keys combo contributes to the groove factor and the lead guitar delivers a nice space-y lick. It's not an high point due to its position on the tracklist, but it's definitely a cool jazz-influenced track with a groovy taste to it.

Then we have "Exit Music (For a Film)". Acting as the cool-down point, the track has a pretty somber start with just a depressing chord sequence on the acoustic guitar and Thom's eerily reverbed vocals. Eventually, the track explodes with a very fuzzy bass riff that sounds like everything Muse ever released (don't know if I made clear that I really hate them?) and then the drums, the bass and the electric guitar fade out and Thom sings the somber line "We hope that you choke" patiently, until he and his acoustic guitar decay into nothingness too. Great song!

After a brief silence, we hear the subtle notes of two guitars in 5/4 and then a 4/4 bass and drums joining in. "Let Down" has this brilliant polyrhythmic thing going on and it is simply beautiful. Again, Thom using more technology vocabulary ("Motorways and tramlines/Starting and then stopping/Taking off to nowhere"), contributing to the central theme of the album. Eventually, the guitars meet the bass and drums, creating a breathtaking bridge (one of the best contributions to the band by Ed O'Brien, by the way!). This is one of the highest points of the album in my opinion. The song ends with the sound of a ZX Spectrum, a computer used often by the members of the band on their youth. Pretty creative, huh?

An album shouldn't have just epics, it must have its radio-friendly hits. And thus, "Karma Police" was born. A pop-rock track with a clear Beatles influence. I like the lyrics on this one. The idea that karma will get you sooner or later is pretty cool. Also, I like that sirens ending. And that's about it. A good pop tune.

Kicking off side two, we've got "Fitter Happier"; a chilling spoken-word interlude that reinforces the conformity, pragmatism and emotional emptiness of the everyday life in our society. It is a pretty solid passage to the next track.

We've reached low point. "Electioneering" is the most Pablo Honey/The Bends-ish track. Not saying it doesn't fit the album, but the grungy sound wasn't particularly favorable on this track. It just doesn't live up to the other songs and that's why the album isn't perfect in my honest opinion. Also, didn't really appreciate the vocal performance on this one.

Then the creativity returns. "Climbing Up The Walls" is another somber point on the album. The whole song is always building up and it turns into a claustrophobic nightmare with screams and roaring guitars. I love the synth bass on this one and the eerie bleep-bloops hidden in the mix. Cool song!

"No Surprises" starts. Oh my god. This track. I remember listening to this with my father in his bedroom like 10 years ago. That melody on the synths and glockenspiel is one of the most calming and chilling moments I've ever heard. This song is one of my favourites of all time. It has such emotional value and nostalgia attached to it. My favourite.

"Lucky" was one of the first songs written on the album. The song was probably made around the chord sequence on the guitar and it is a pretty solid track. Nothing really stands out until the last minute. Luckily (eheh), that bridge to the outro exists, or it wouldn't be nearly as rewarding.

Finishing it all with "The Tourist"; a song that, just like "Climbing Up The Walls", builds up real slow. It feels really lackadaisacal and calming, but also Thom's voice makes it unsettling. I love the vocal performance on this one. One of my favourites of the album, for sure. Also love that lead guitar solo. The ascending feeling on this last track is priceless and makes this ending perfect, in my opinion. Cool bell on the end.

In conclusion, this is an amazing album (not the best piece of music ever created, but sure a gamechanger) that would shape the 00's sound and I would risk even further! Creativity and emotion overflows on this project and it was one of the special albums that got me into music and stuff.
9 Comments
Jul 3, 2019
Holy moly, great review!
Jul 3, 2019
Obrigadô! Now presentingue. Mai ni**ase. Madlibe. ande. freddie gibbse. Itse time for bandana, biteche. So turn your speakerse upe. Let use go, biteche.
Jul 3, 2019
You aren't the only one that thinks Electioneering is a low point, but honestly it's one of my favourite tracks on the album
Jul 3, 2019
It was one of my favourites at first, but idk, I just think there's much better on the album in terms of songwriting. It's alright tho
Jul 3, 2019
stfu electroneering is my second favourite muse song
6d ago
Really good review homie
5d ago
this review made me learn like fifty new words, great job!
5d ago
Thank you tom!
5d ago
@Songsearcher1 are you for real? I think my English is pretty rudimentary, many times I can't really express myself in the best way. Thank you so much!
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