Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Radiohead

  • Pablo Honey [Capitol, 1993] Choice Cuts
  • The Bends [Capitol, 1995] C
  • OK Computer [Capitol, 1997] B-
  • Kid A [Capitol, 2000] A-
  • Amnesiac [Capitol, 2001] ***
  • I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings [Capitol, 2001] *
  • Hail to the Thief [Capitol, 2003] *
  • In Rainbows [Purloined Datadisc, 2007] **
  • The King of Limbs [XL/TBD, 2011] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Pablo Honey [Capitol, 1993]
"Creep" Choice Cuts

The Bends [Capitol, 1995]
Admired by Britcrits, who can't tell whether they're "pop" or "rock," and their record company, which pushed (and shoved) this follow-up until it went gold Stateside, they try to prove "Creep" wasn't a one-shot by pretending that it wasn't a joke. Not that there's anything deeply phony about Thom Yorke's angst--it's just a social given, a mindset that comes as naturally to a '90s guy as the skilled guitar noises that frame it. Thus the words achieve precisely the same pitch of aesthetic necessity as the music, which is none at all. C

OK Computer [Capitol, 1997]
My favorite Pink Floyd album has always been Wish You Were Here, and you know why? It has soul, that's why--it's Roger Waters's lament for Syd, not my idea of a tragic hero but as long as he's Roger's that doesn't matter. Radiohead wouldn't know a tragic hero if they were cramming for their A levels, and their idea of soul is Bono, who they imitate further at the risk of looking even more ridiculous than they already do. So instead they pickle Thom Yorke's vocals in enough electronic marginal distinction to feed a coal town for a month. Their art-rock has much better sound effects than the Floyd snoozefest Dark Side of the Moon. But it's less sweeping and just as arid. B-

Kid A [Capitol, 2000]
I guess the fools who ceded these bummed-out Brits U2's world's-greatest-rock-band slot actually did care about what bigger fool Thom Yorke had to say as well as how he made it sound. Why else the controversy over this bag of sonics? Me, I'm so relieved Yorke's doing without lyrics. Presaging too damn much but no more a death knell for song than OK Computer was for organic life, this is an imaginative, imitative variation on a pop staple: sadness made pretty. Alienated masterpiece nothing--it's dinner music. More claret? A-

Amnesiac [Capitol, 2001]
makes a lot more sense if you're already feeling down in the mouth ("Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box," "Knives Out") ***

I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings [Capitol, 2001]
four from Kid A, three from they forget, and one minor new love song add up to a slightly unhinged live remix album ("National Anthem," "Everything in Its Right Place") *

Hail to the Thief [Capitol, 2003]
See: No Hope Radio. *

In Rainbows [Purloined Datadisc, 2007]
Developed in concert, hence more jammy, less songy and less Yorkey, which is good ("Jigsaw Falling Into Place," "Bodysnatchers"). **

The King of Limbs [XL/TBD, 2011]
So much more fun than Eno these days ("Little by Little," "Bloom") **

See Also