Every Radiohead Album, Ranked From Worst To Best

When you bring up the question of “who are the best band of all time”, more often that not you’ll hear one word uttered: Radiohead. While they’re constantly memed by not only their own fans but the music community at large, their decades spanning discography is full of creative endeavours, from genre defining to genre creating. To commemorate the band’s career thus far, five radiohead fans from the site have put their heads together, voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography.

Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s put everything in its right place and get into it…

9. Pablo Honey (1993)

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Andrew Barr (@weeandreww): ….erm…it’s got creep I suppose?

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh): I’d rather go through the pain of killing my da again than listen to Pablo Honey.

Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr): Straight up, not the worst album ever made. I think Radiohead fans overreact when talking about it, it’s by no means great, it’s just a bang average alt rock album.

Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge): It’s undeniable how important creep was in giving them the financial freedom to continue as a band create what they want musically. However, it’s obvious that they were still finding their feet as a band, very symbolic of immaturity (esp. the infamous mtv beach house performance).

Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster): For me, Pablo Honey is FINE, just got some duds but really just sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of their discography.

8. The King Of Limbs (2011)

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E: Right it’s really just a weird one eh, like that one time you wore that horrific jacket for months and looking back on that time in your life you’re just like “why?” this album is alright but really has no impact on radiohead sonically and just seems like a detour for them.

H: It’s a clever album but nowhere near worth the five year waiter, especially after In Rainbows.  They should have just released the last four tracks as an EP – whole LP is too short to bother with and first half is too repetitive.

L: I’ve not made my feelings of this album a secret but the fact I still dislike it in most aspects her own it on vinyl says a lot. I think where most of my dissatisfaction stems from is that it was something new but felt…bland? Or that it at least attempted to be something new but the band never followed up on it and eventually it just feels like a bump in what was previously a pretty smooth ride.

J: An incredibly weird record within the confines of their discography. they kind of regress in sound back towards what they’d already perfected in the Kid A/Amnesiac era. I do think it’s great but I don’t see why it exists for lack of a better term?? it’s got some stunners on it like Codex and Separator but then there’s tracks like Feral and Morning Mr Magpie that are kind of just meh?

E: I respect radiohead a lot for actually bothering to make this album, and perhaps after seemingly peaking on in rainbows, the only way to go was to totally immerse themselves in the unknown.

L: Jake pretty much summed it up there for me, they kind of just wanted to do what they had already perfected which I can’t fault them for as they did attempt to change it up but it’s a step back rather than forward.

7. The Bends (1995)

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L: Right off the bat: My Iron Lung, Fake Plastic Trees and High and Dry are three of my favourite songs by Radiohead so The Bends holds a special place in my heart.

A: I feel like there’s a tendency to look back on the bends with rose-tinted glasses: heard it in live sets (tracks like FPT, Street Spirit and the title track) however when I listened back to it there’s quite a few just “meh” tracks on it.

E: As said, it’s a perfectly good album but knowing what came after it feels like one of their weakest, still worth a listen.

H: Yeah, it’s ood, but still very of the era – I wouldn’t complain if any other band did it but what radiohead are renowned for is their experimentation and there is none of it here – however just and the title track are bangers.

A: However it was a massive massive step up from PH and a record they had to make to eventually make OKC, as previously stated tracks like Street Spirit, Fake Plastic Trees, My Iron Lung and the title track feel like classic Radiohead, the melancholic feel that has characterised their career was even evident on the slow burners.

J: Aye if someone is just getting into Radiohead I think this would be a decent starting point, I’d advise skipping Pablo Honey completely but that’s because I’m a bad boy. There are a fair few bangers on the Bends and all of the tracks are killer live, all in all it’s real good.

6. Amnesiac (2001)

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J: Aw I really like Amnesiac. I think it gets a bad rap. It’s got like 3 of my all time favourite Radiohead tracks on it (Pyramid Song, Knives Out, Like Spinning Plates) so i’ll always hold it in high regard.

E: A strange entry in radiohead’s discography, it really does feel like if it didn’t exist their journey as a band would still flow the same, but at the same time i think there is a lot to be enjoyed about it and if you like radiohead at this time in their career then there’s really not much to dislike.

L: Honestly a great album, the b side meme is good and all but I think that mostly stems from Radiohead trying to constantly change their sound so when they stayed even a bit similar fans got annoyed, it’s really just more of what we all loved.

H: I’d say this is where the band peaked in terms of experimenting – genuinely not a band thing I can say about it, pretty bummed that it’s this low.

A: I fucking love Amnesiac, I feel it’s so easy to forget about but it’s so worth the time it takes to get into it. Tracks like Revolving Doors are some of the most batshit crazy things the band have ever done and they deserve a place on this record.

J: That being said, none of the songs bar Packt Like Sardines maybe would have worked on Kid A imo, so it was smart of them to hold off on the tracks. It’s a really really strong record with some staggeringly weird bits thrown in.

E: You and Whose Army finds Radiohead at their most urgent though and will always be one of my favourite tracks.

A: I love that they made a record which comprises tracks as simple and beautiful as You and Whose Army and Pyramid Song and placed it alongside a track running through the different kinds of doors that exist.

J: Hunting Bears is a belter too, it’s a bit of an anomaly in their back catalogue in the sense that the songs were saved from the cutting room floor but I think it’s a banging record.

5. Kid A (2000)

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J: Kid A is a saucy little bugger of an album. It took me a long time to get into when I started properly getting into Radiohead but i’m glad I stuck with it because it is SPECIAL.

L: Admittedly it took me so long to “get” this album, especially after what had came before. Most of the appeal of it comes from imagining Thom and co going “see what we did last time? Fuck that, let’s try something else” which doesn’t automatically mean that album will be any good but oh fuck did they do it again.

E: Kid A is that album that transitioned radiohead from that band your dad likes to that band your dad used to like before they got “weird” and now your uncle loves them. Such a manic departure from what came before, but so essential once again in leading radiohead to what is to come, but somehow manages to be one of their strongest records at the same time.

A: I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to an album with such a clear atmosphere running through each track, it sounds like the cover makes it sound. It’s sparse, foreign and mechanical but in all of the best ways, and making it after OK Computer cemented Radiohead’s genius.

L: Everything In Its Right Place has and always will make me weirdly uncomfortable, everything from the peculiar instrumentals to Thom’s delivery just has you feeling some kind of way.

H: The national anthem does not belong on this album but that being said, it’s a Krautrock inspired collection of particularly creative tracks. It also arguably contains the best trio of tracks in their discography – idioteque, morning bell, motion picture. soundtrack

J: I adore the fact that they just fucked off the legacy they’d built pre-Kid A and went fucking batshit mental. it took a lot of balls to do that and the fact that it paid off as convincingly as it did is a testament to how good Radiohead truly are

4. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

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A: It’s not been out for long enough yet for it truly to be considered as one, but it’s going down as a Radiohead classic.

H: It’s a definite comeback but it’s still past their best imo – that being said identikit and present tense are great tracks and I fucking love them.

L: Undoubtedly the band’s most mature work thus far and easily their most emotional work to date, much like Blackstar it was a great album already but events that surfaced after its release helped it to transcend into something more than most art can ever hope to achieve.

E: The definition of a grower, each track seems to be its own a thing which actually isn’t a bad thing on this album but does maybe signal this may be their final offering but if so it will be an extremely strong farewell which still finds radiohead stretching themselves musically such as on ful stop which is so non-linear it’s a fascinating listen.

L: The band basically limit their palette to this really niche pick of colours (or sounds rather) and achieve this minimalistic beauty of a record – I feel like this with time it’ll age into something really special.

J: I find it really relaxing. tunes like Daydreaming and True Love Waits are really stunning. I often listen to AMSP to help me fall asleep, which isn’t a slight on the record at all. it just puts me in a really relaxed mindset.

A: When you think about it, you think “oh it’s a lot of slow songs with strings and drum machines” but the instrumental variation throughout the record is superb, from the urgency of tracks like Burn the Witch and Ful Stop to ethereally beautiful tracks like Daydreaming and True Love Waits.

J: it has all the characteristics of a Radiohead album but they’ve all been tweaked ever so slightly to make something really unique and special – give it 5 years and this will easily go down as another(!) classic.

3. Hail To The Thief (2003)

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J: BEST RADIOHEAD ALBUM FUCKING FIGHT ME I’LL DM ANYONE MY ADDRESS, I’M NOT FUCKING SCARED, I’LL GLOAM EVERY CUNT. 

L: I know no album is truly underrated since someone will always love an album but HTTT is truly underrated in the context of Radiohead’s discography.

J: It doesn’t get anywhere near the respect it deserves and it infuriates me.

H: This would be their best if it was just a bit shorter on certain tracks e.g get rid of the gloaming but considering the short period of time it was created in, it’s pretty phenomenal. 

E: I think it comes close to being radiohead’s best album, but for every moment of genius such as myxomatosis or, in my opinion their best track of all time, There, There, there’s just a dull track or a down right bad track that lets it down, and it just becomes a bit clustered and tedious but it definitely had signs of what had been looming all along and they begin to experiment even further electronically and instrumentally

L: 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and Backdrifts are the first that spring to mind when I remember this album, much like Kid A I was hesitant to listen to it but given what came before it it has that perfect mix of my favourite Radiohead album that mixes the old with the new.

J: It blew me away the first time I heard it in all honesty. it is absolutely gorgeous. songs like Sail To The Moon, Sit Down, Stand Up and Scatterbrain really let Radiohead’s ability to write beautiful pieces of music shine.

A: In all seriousness, HTTT is CRAZY underrated, by going back to a guitar sound it shows just how much Radiohead have evolved as a band and as musicians since they last made “rock” records and as a result, I prefer the heavier moments on this album to Radiohead’s heavier tracks earlier in their career. 2+2=5, Myxomatosis and There, There are all massive rock tunes but are blessed by the songwriting genius that the band had acquired

2. OK Computer (1997)

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E: Garbage 2/10

L: Ethian Woodford CANCELLED.

J: I don’t like OK Computer as much as everyone else likes OK Computer but I still think OK Computer is a classic. OK Computer.

E: Obviously joking, OK computer is what made radiohead radiohead, everything that both fans and casual listeners associate them with stems from this record and it still has an influence on alternative rock today, it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

L: The first “partrician” album I listened to when I was 15 after googling “best albums ever made”, it’s undoubtedly the most important album Radiohead have and ever will make though that shouldn’t be interpreted as best though their best song, my favourite anyway, makes an appearance.

J: Undeniably a classic, without a weak track on it in my mind, but this isn’t peak Radiohead.

H: It might be a tad overrated but the recent release of OKNOTOK cemented it as one of the greatest + most influential albums of the nineties.

L: Also I know people say it’s not a track but Fitter Happier never gets skipped, I can imagine that kind of track being even more relevant to our generation than those who listened to it upon its arrival.

A: I feel like it’s an album made by its “moments” – the 3rd verse of let down, the “rain down” section of paranoid android, the climax/crescendo of exit music, the “for a minute there, I lost myself” of karma police etc etc, there’s so many moments that blow you away on OK Computer.

J: This is also undeniably the album that kicked Radiohead onto the course to being one of the best bands in history – the jump in quality in just 3 albums is genuinely staggering, how the fuck they went from writing songs like How Do You to songs like Paranoid Android will never not baffle me.

A:  It’s not looked on fondly by all Radiohead fans but part of OK Computer’s legacy is the bands it’s inspired who set out to pretty much make OK Computer again, the likes of Muse and Coldplay.

J: Agreed Andy, so many bands try and have “moments” like that in their songs just for a live setting, but with the tracks on OK Computer the “moments” come so organically it’s stupid.

1. In Rainbows (2007)

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L: BEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME, 10 OUTTA 10, HUNDRED OUTTA HUNDRED, MASTAHPIECE.

A: This album is a solid 10/10, the best the band have ever made and one of the best records ever made.

H: Inarguably the best – most standalone great tracks (reckoner and weird fishes/arpeggi in particular) and works perfectly start to finish – all the musical and emotional variety you need in two thirds of the length of HTTT.

E: Really once you listen to this album it’s clear what radiohead have been working towards, this album is a masterpiece, from the lyrics to the production, its everything they could possibly have hoped to achieve and for me the most underrated track is Reckoner, finds thom in a truly vulnerable state and is extremely sparse for a radiohead track and results in something beautiful.

A: I know it’s only got 10 tracks, but there’s not one lull in the 43 minutes of music, not a dud track to be seen or not even a verse or a bridge which doesn’t sound as good as it possibly could.

L: It really is a fantastic culmination of everything the band have attempted to do and succeeded with, learning from past mistakes and making an album that I honestly believe has not one weak tracking.

A: You literally only need to name the tracks and it’ll be obvious how many classics there are. Nude, Bodysnatchers, Videotape, All I Need, Jigsaw Falling Into Place and my personal favourite, Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.

J: There’s not much I can say about In Rainbows that hasn’t already been said. it is unequivocally a 10/10 record. in every way. simply stunning. Angry, sad, hopeful, pessimistic all at once. it’s just… aye. it’s immaculate.

A: It’s become a massive meme (EEEEED) but fuck me, Ed’s vocals on Weird Fishes and the way they combine with Thom’s are beautiful and creates the most calming but urgent music moment ever, absolute bliss.

J: HTTF is still a more enjoyable listen for me but this is undoubtedly their best album. Top to tail stuffed with genius. and Disk 2 is magic as well – BANGERS AND MASH BOIZ.

L: I think even the way it was released set a real trend that, while wasn’t started by Radiohead, was definitely popularised by them.

A: Yeah a massive testament to the record is how much press it’s release method got, yet the music has emerged and more than spoken for itself, which shows how genius the album actually is.

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Album Review: Arcade Fire – Everything Now

By Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

It’s almost anger-inducing how little effort it seems that Arcade Fire have put into their newest project Everything Now. They’ve opted for a more minimalistic approach to songwriting, though unlike, for example, Beach House, they’re unable to pull it off and instead come up off as lazy and pretentious.

Starting with the title track and the first single released, Everything Now, it’s surprising how the first band that comes to mind is ABBA. With a resurgence of soul and R&B in the musical zeitgeist, Arcade Fire clearly wanted to get on the nostalgia bandwagon but unfortunately fell at the first hurdle and selected the wrong genre: disco.

As you listen through the album, you hear very little musical development from the band (especially from a percussion perspective) and experience some frustration with the lack of lyrical depth, apart from maybe Creature Comfort, which deals with important ideas of self-image. However, the production on Regine Chassagne’s voice means that she’s too whiny and too low in the mix, so you can’t actually make out what she’s singing.

Let’s just get the criticism out in the open, shall we? Infinite Content is musically and lyrically the worst pop-punk song in the world; Infinite_Content is just filler, a rehash of the previous song inadvertently in the style of Wild-West saloon music; Chemistry sounds like an awful parody of a ska song; Signs of Life should be in the background of a bloody camera advert and what on Earth is Peter Pan?!

We Don't Deserve Love is basically just a shit rip-off of Here Comes The Night Time from their previous, instrumentally superior album Reflektor. Through the poppy direction the band was going in with their fourth LP, we should have taken it as warning sign for Everything Now – it was inevitable, like Trump’s presidency.

One of the few redeeming features of this album are the track transitions. The title track is undeniably catchy and the intro track into it has a cool, almost goosebump-inducing effect. There are a couple more tracks with something to offer too. Put Your Money on Me sounds like a more upbeat The xx, with the first sign of some energy from the drummer. Electric Blue is ok too, though it’s difficult to read the title without looking forward to Sound and Vision by David Bowie, which is an infinitely better song with a lot more effort put into the songwriting process.

On future listens you could be tricked into thinking that maybe the drumming works, maybe some of the riffs are clever, and maybe there is some hidden lyrical depth. However your mind will swiftly change when you take the context the musical adventure in the rest of their discography which just isn’t present here. There’s very little evidence in this album of the strings that were so prominent in their previous work, and in general the dull repetition of the lyrics and instrumentation makes you think that maybe they should just drop the pretence and become the next Coldplay.

Maybe they should have just released the title track as a single and left it there. Like ‘this is the style of music we’re thinking about releasing at some point in the future, we’ll give it a bit more consideration and come back to you in a year or two’. Fine. Great. Instead, the band is selling out in the worst possible sense, which is questionable considering they've had a huge fanbase since The Suburbs meaning this abomination was not necessary in the slightest.

As a final aside, don’t buy into their satirical company, 'Everything Now Corp'. It might be a clever marketing campaign, but it has one damning flaw; in parodying right-wing ideologies of consumption, they have in fact become the very phenomenon that they were taking the piss out of in the first place. Capitalism, eh?

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Holistically, Everything Now is certainly the Canadians’ least instrumentally and musically diverse. Like a classic two-chord Chainsmokers song, it quickly merges into a half-arsed sickly-sweet pop album with no flavour – like Lucozade Original without the refreshment. It genuinely makes you feel like you don't want to listen to contemporary music any more, that it’s not worthwhile getting excited for a release by one of your favourite bands. Maybe there's a good God, damn, but there's no evidence of it here.

2/10

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Album Review: Alt J – Relaxer

By Becky Little (@sometimesboring) and Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

It’s crass intro time. Relaxer, Alt J’s most recent offering has definitely lived up to the trend set by its predecessors as being a grower, not a shower… that was a bit painful to type but it’s true.

Solely on first impressions, the album as a whole seemed a little underwhelming. Now, Alt J and underwhelming are not two things you would usually see in the same sentence. The main crux around this issue is potentially the fact that the release of Alt J albums tends to receive a lot of excitement and apprehension. However, upon the first listen, Relaxer as a whole didn’t seem to live up to the hype.

We were teased a few months ago with the release of gentle 3WW and the brash, intense In Cold Blood. It may seem to the untrained ear that these singles left us a little high and dry, as other tracks on the album arguably didn’t match the anticipation which followed the album like a stray puppy.

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ON! THE! OTHER! HAND!

Second listen. Oh, the glorious second listen. That’s where you find out that your first thoughts were wrong and in fact, that’s just what they want you to think. They want you to have to listen to it again in order to truly understand the unique cohesion, a trademark of the art-pop pioneers of the 2010s. The balance between the harsh Hit Me Like That Snare and more mellow tracks such as Last Year and Pleader is inspired, alongside the delightful cover of the iconic folk gem, House of The Rising Sun, popularised by The Animals in the 1960s.

On the topic of Pleader, the track really is reminiscent of the subtle, sparse yet powerful tracks of their debut; An Awesome Wave. The album ender almost shows signs of similarity to Intro and Bloodflood, confirming that the Leeds graduates have plunged back into their niche beginnings which propelled them to their initial success.

Alternatively, another of the pre-released singles, Adeline, bears similarities to the band’s sophomore album This Is All Yours, specifically Bloodflood, Pt. II. The track’s frantic percussion and orchestral elements towards the end also bear likeness to Woodkid’s Run Boy Run.

It is clear that the trio is drawing influence from across their discography and even potentially further afield, keeping it beautifully nerdy in the process. It’s almost as if they have gone full circle, with An Awesome Wave setting out their cleverly unique sound, This Is All Yours nodding towards the mainstream and Relaxer bringing some obscurity back home.

8/10


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Looking Back At…OK Computer by Radiohead

By Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

Twenty years of OK Computer. THE OK Computer. Arguably the most influential alternative rock album of the nineties, and the top of many fans’ ranking lists. Where does one start?

Well, Airbag probably. A hugely underrated track inspired by a nasty motoring accident, the album kicks off with a bass riff and what sounds like sleigh bells, with the Radiohead stamp of uniqueness coming in the form of a punchy (albeit repetitive) beat from drummer Phil Selway and vocals which seem to be about an octave higher than anyone else the genre from lead songwriter and all-around god Thom Yorke.

The song fades out, being replaced by that iconic four beep transition into one of the greatest songs – nay, compositions – of modern music: Paranoid Android. It is described as Radiohead’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ since it is effectively a slightly-longer-than-usual track split into three distinct smaller tracks, and the fact that it’s their best-known song apart from Creep (though arguably leagues above it technically and as a song to listen to) – in fact, BoRhap is cited by the Abingdon five-piece as key inspiration in the songwriting process. The resultant sound is a surreal composition that is very technically skilled, containing seventeen-time signature changes. The accompanying music video is probably their weirdest, too, with the final scene involving a high-level politician head and torso sitting in a tree being fed fish by a bird.

A particular highlight is the following track, Subterranean Homesick Alien, which offers an outsider’s perspective on the human condition against Radiohead’s formula of a strong beat and some very open guitar work. Next is Exit Music (For a Film), written for the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, which has one of the biggest crescendos on the album and is described by Thom as being something he was particularly proud of, the first track they had written which he ‘could turn up really loud and not wince at any moment’. Let Down is certainly not a letdown, providing one of the most emotionally engaging moments on the album, with the point around the two-minute mark where the drums are their strongest and Thom’s voice begins to quiver being a poignant struggle-not-to-cry moment.

Karma Police is arguably the best track on OK Computer, finding strength with simplicity, musically speaking and in the video, with ‘this is what you’ll get…when you mess with us’ being one of the most memorable lyrics on the album. It’s difficult to know what to think about Fitter Happier – at first listen it’s so jarring it’s almost unlistenable but after you take the time to get through it the lyrics (if you can call them lyrics?) are the most potent on the album. Conversely, Electioneering is much more jaunty, being the most energetic of the album and having one of the most political of messages. Climbing Up The Walls features one of Thom’s most harrowing vocal performances, and Phil’s use of toms where snares would usually be is particularly offputting. No Surprises is another big song from the album, performed in an almost lullaby-esque way, and echoes the strong simple style of Karma Police. The final tracks, Lucky and The Tourist both have relatively large crescendos during their chorus but overall are two of the more forgettable moments on the album.   

Radiohead were one of the first modern bands to create short compositions to as opposed to just songs that were jammed to, exemplified by OK Computer. Lyrically, OK Computer is a very clever critique of modern society. In fact, there is an element of foresight to this album that makes it more applicable in today’s climate than ever before, with themes such as political corruption and consumerism prevalent all through the LP. Musically, when compared to their previous efforts of Pablo Honey and The Bends, it is the first moment they break out from the generic of-the-era alt-rock style and became their own unique band. Following the 1997 release, Radiohead embarked on The OK Computer Tour which brought about exhaustion in the band. This caused the band’s entire mindset to change, with Kid A written almost as a reaction, turning out to be a huge change of direction but also a work of genius. And of course, you can’t mention OK Computer without mentioning the link to their strongest work to date: 2007’s In Rainbows, which forms half of the famous 0110 playlist.

A key point about Radiohead is that their work is so varied but counterintuitively, still niche. It is impossible to judge the band on one song alone, instead, their work begs to be appreciated as a whole, be it through a single album or their entire discography. This is why, when you ask someone whether they’re a Radiohead fan the answer is unlikely to be ‘yeah, they’re alright’. Instead, a more realistic reply will be either ‘haven’t listened to them’ or ‘YES I LOVE THEM OMG MARRY ME THOM ❤’’ because they’ve listened to their all their albums and B-sides a hundred times each. Some may argue that this lack of immediate accessibility is a reason to dislike the band as it is a barrier to getting into them in our busy 21st-century lives.

A better perspective to have is that Radiohead, OK Computer in particular, is the much-needed segue to a greater appreciation of music.

9/10


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LOOKING BACK AT…BLUNDERBUSS by JACK WHITE

By Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

Jack White III (born John Anthony Gillis), Grammy awarded vocalist/guitarist in the White Stripes and The Raconteurs, drummer in The Dead Weather and king of the riff, released his debut solo album five years ago to this very day. Henceforth cometh the assessment of its musical impact on the industry in its half-decade life. This is instinctively a difficult release to review, as you can either judge it since it’s his first album as a solo artist or compare it to his twenty-five previous years as a musician. Anyhow, Jack’s songwriting ability we all know and love is evident throughout the LP, shown through his many influences in various genres from garage to gospel.

The opener, Missing Pieces, has a certain warmth to the vocals that doesn’t appear in his work with ex-wife Meg White and just has a cleaner production element than most of their work in general. That is not to say that the White Stripes weren’t influential, arguably popularising the riff-heavy power duo model that spawned successes such as The Black Keys and even Royal Bloodif anything it’s a compliment to White that he was able to do his own thing rather than trample on his band’s reputation.

The following track, Sixteen Saltines has Jack’s classic signature not-so-complex yet BELTING riffs filling your ears, and one of the biggest surprises of the album is the great Freedom At 21, which, along of one the best riffs to come out of some of Jack White’s work, has contained within it a drum beat so complex it is rumoured to be two separate drum tracks layered over one another. The title track Blunderbuss is a significant break in energy in the album – it’s almost a waltz – illustrating some variety to Jack’s sound that he didn’t find with Meg, especially instrumentally, with a healthy portion of strings running through the track.

Lyrically, however, the album is weak at points, with very little depth (literally stating the obvious on Hypocritical KissI know every single thing that I said was true) and it seems Jack is too dependent on the riffs themselves to carry the album forward. The cleaner production and more varied instrumentation do little to hide the fact that there has been very little growth in Jack’s musical repertoire since his final release with the White Stripes five years previously.

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Compared to his next album Lazaretto (released 2014), Jack’s work on this album is a mere building block towards it, with an album more coherent, and, not that it matters but, a better-looking album cover – it takes you to your third listen of Blunderbuss to realise that there’s a vulture with its wing over his shoulder, and the background is so blurry and monotone that it almost makes you not want to listen to the LP. TL;DR: his second solo attempt is more distinct in cover art and in sound. With this LP Jack White bares a lot of emotion that we haven’t seen before, but the album’s namesake, a large bored 17th century shotgun, is unfortunately not matched by the surprisingly small impact of this album – it was written to be played live, and does not do very much as a recording.

6.5/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: Different Creatures by Circa Waves

By Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

Liverpool-based Circa Waves teased their first single way back in 2013, leaving it another two years before releasing their first LP Young Chasers, which turned out to be one of the indie highlights of the year and left them with a lot of work to do on their follow up. 

The band dropped their first single Wake Up back in late 2016, and it was evident from there that there had been some serious maturation of their sound from the almost cute, summery riffs of their debut. The opening guitar sound, more reminiscent of heavier alternative bands, is certainly more booming. Their second single, Fire That Burns, released a few weeks later, cemented this idea, turning out to be a more open Maccabees-esque, with some definite emotional depth contained in the lyrics.

Their full album comprises of these first two singles, then nine others of a style that gets progressively more varied – a sign of definitive development between LP1 and LP2. Though not quite ‘experimental’, there is a clear trialing of both heavier and softer styles; Goodbye growls like a Queens of the Stone Age song; while the heart-wrenchingly beautiful acoustic composition Love’s Run Out acts as a definitive change of pace on the rollercoaster of an album. Similarly, the addition of a string arrangement to Out On My Own certainly adds to the evidence of increased skill and versatility as you listen through the tracks.

There are, however, points on this LP that display very little change of sound; tracks such as Crying Shame wouldn’t seem out of place on Young Chasers. The same would apply to the title track, Different Creatures, if you ignore the slight unease of some plunky guitar work.

Holistically, unlike their last release (and most releases by most bands for that matter), this album is a lot stronger in its second half than first – definite highlights are Without You, which has more energy and Old Friends, which takes the chilled sixties vibe first hinted at in Deserve This from Young Chasers and adding some emotive brass instrumentation to make for a very special album closer.

Image result for circa waves 2017

Lyrically this album is pretty angsty, with a less rose-tinted nostalgia and more gritty realism – certainly a ‘different creature’ to Young Chasers in that sense, if you excuse the awful pun – with the ‘explicit’ mark sitting next to four of the eleven track names on iTunes. Once you take into account the addition of the album cover, you’d think they’ve morphed into an emo punk band!

There is, in general, much less claustrophobia to this album – the individual parts now have space to breathe, and thus develop creatively. The drums and bass have a much cleaner production element to them, however there is disappointingly a lot less new variation in style compared to the guitar work and Kieran Shudall’s vocals, though maybe that can be left to their next LP.

Overall, you get the impression this album was written to listen to during a tough day of work rather than a relaxed day at the beach like Young Chasers – and to perform at a larger venue too. Their sound will undoubtedly fill it because if their live shows ooze the newfound confidence of Different Creatures, they will do a spectacular job.

7.5/10


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