Album Review: Kid A – Radiohead

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Album Review: Kid A – Radiohead

Adam Sapit, Entertainment Editor

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                18 years ago, English experimental rock band Radiohead released their fourth studio album Kid A. Mainly known for their rock anthems such as their 1993 single, “Creep”, the band had grown tired of playing the alternative rock they were famous for.

                Kid A had marked a drastic change of style for the band. Relying less on writing music around the vocals and using traditional structures, Radiohead had focused on sounds and textures, leaving the vocals as more of an instrument than a song’s driving factor. Radiohead drew inspiration from electronica artists like Aphex Twin for this album.

                The change of style has divided critics and fans alike, with those disliking it expecting another OK Computer. Those who enjoyed the album described it as imaginative, somber, and chilling. Pitchfork, a highly accredited music review site, gives Kid A a stellar 10/10. Rolling Stone placed Kid A as one of the greatest albums of all time, putting it at number 67.

Teresa Pontes

                The album opens with “Everything In Its Right Place”. Keeping with the main themes of this album, this song feels detached and more electronic. As stated earlier, the band tried to express a more minimalistic style, using the bare minimum of percussion. Vocals take a back seat in this song. Lyrics are minimal and cryptic. In a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone, Thom Yorke, the band’s frontman, explains that “Everything In Its Right Place” is partially about himself and the breakdown he had after a 1997 concert. Yorke noted “Lots of people say that song is gibberish. It’s not. It’s totally about that [breakdown].”

Natalia Maia

                Then comes the title track, “Kid A”. Like the first track, “Kid A” maintains a robotic nature to it. It starts out with plucked dry synths which continue throughout the entirety of the track. Radiohead’s lead guitarist and keyboardist, Jonny Greenwood, used an Ondes Martenot to manipulate the vocals for this track and many others on the album. Just like the track before, the lyrics to this song are minimalist and somewhat nonsensical. Despite this, “Kid A” is one of my favorite tracks from the album due to its chilling composition.

Later... With Jools Holland

                Track three marks a slightly different style. “The National Anthem”, unlike the tracks before, is strangely more organic. The track starts out with a heavy bassline, continuing throughout the whole song without any progression. Again, an Ondes Martenot was used to distort the vocals. Out of all the tracks on the album, this one comes off as the most energetic. Yorke used elements of jazz to help inspire the song. This can be noted by the blaring brass horns used throughout the track. Supposedly, the band wanted to capture the spirit of rush-hour traffic through their composition in the track.

David Herrera

                The energy of the album doesn’t last long. Next up in the track list is “How To Disappear Completely”. This track is the most similar to their earlier compositions, relying more on acoustic guitar and falsetto vocals. Although it’s the least groundbreaking track, it’s still one of the most emotionally powerful ones. Yorke captures the feeling of disassociation perfectly here. It’s an overall very somber track, but not the most on the album. This track is another one of my favorites from this album. This song leads into a long interlude titled “Treefingers”. There’s nothing very notable about this track particularly, but personally I think it adds to the overall mood of the album.


                “Optimistic” comes next. In this song, we can hear Yorke’s songwriting come alive. This track uses more elements of traditional drums and guitars. This track utilizes tom drums more than anything else. This song is most likely about a survival-of-the-fittest scenario. Specifically, the lyric “The big fish eat the little ones” hints at this the most.

                Following “Optimistic” is “In Limbo”. Originally titled “Lost At Sea”, this track is watery and mysterious sounding. Unfortunately, out of all the tracks, this one’s the least memorable to me. It never really caught my attention compared to the rest of the album’s tracks. However, it’s still a decent addition to Kid A.

BBC Radio One

                Next comes a fan favorite. “Idiotheque” is one of their most popular songs from this album. There’s no mistaking why Consequence of Sound puts this track at number one for the best Radiohead song. “Idiotheque” is the outlier of their entire discography. It features no organic instruments, but instead a drum machine and some synths. Again, this track is very robotic. Many have come to believe that this this track is about the stigmas of technology and global warming.

                “Morning Bell” is another track that hasn’t really caught my ear. This track uses a repetitive pattern of rhythm and melody. Lyrically, the song doesn’t amount to much. That’s supposedly the reason the track exists. It was a song full of half-formed ramblings that were tuned to a track.


                However, the last track on this album is nothing like what comes before it. “Motion Picture Soundtrack” closes the album in the most perfect way. This track uses mostly organs and strings to get its bittersweet message across. It’s a song about lost love and the sadness that goes along with it. It’s one of my favorite tracks that the band has ever released because it’s so powerful.

                Overall, Kid A’s creation was vital to Radiohead’s newfound style. There’s no mistaking why so many people praise this album. It’s unique but also very captivating. Overall, I’d give this album a 9/10 for it’s amazing composition. Despite its age, Kid A is still a groundbreaking album to this day and is worth a listen.


Edit 2/6/19:

Fixed some broken video links.