7. The Bends
The best way that I can describe this album: A tub of vanilla ice cream for your emotional breakdowns.
This was a very important step for Radiohead to take, and was the first time that they started to find a unique sound that not only cleared up their public name but also provided some fresh fodder for bands of future eras to feed on like animals. However, one thing I never hear addressed when people talk about The Bends is how fucking depressing it is, and I in no way mean that as a bad thing. I don’t think that all music without a drop is depressing. From the beginning to the end of this album, it bleeds and reeks sadness, with all moments of happiness being either extremely evanescent or occurring only in dreams. A feeling of depression pervades the whole of The Bends, and it is beautiful. In spite of this, the qualities of its alt-rock niche do seem to run thin throughout the album’s duration.
6. A Moon Shaped Pool
The best way that I can describe this album: A mask of beauty that stretches across a face of desolation, but can only stretch so far.
Following the LP9 hype train on the Radiohead subreddit leading up to this album’s release was a weird experience. I celebrated, theorized, and laughed with faceless strangers that I’d probably never meet besides walking past them on the sidewalk one day and never knowing who they were. When the album finally dropped, I strangely wasn’t running around up and down the streets thanking God for this fantastic moment; I was pretty lowkey about it, even while I listened to it.
The sound of AMSP is like a dismembered corpse of rock, electronic, and piano loosely strung together by orchestral influences.
God, that was a weird simile.
Nevertheless, the album sounds modernized in a way that indicates nothing but constant evolution, which is good. A lot of standouts for me on this album are the more laidback songs that give you a peek into the true and aching heart of AMSP, such as “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk”, “Tinker Tailor…”, and the album closer, “True Love Waits”, which is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
Besides these tracks, none of the others seem to strike my fancy. Perhaps it’s because the album hasn’t fully settled in my brain the way others have, but I think AMSP would’ve already done so had it had a good impression to make on my brain.
5. In Rainbows
The best way that I can describe this album: An album to satiate your indie reveries of momentary happiness and unrequited love.
The band tinkered with indie rock in the past, with some of their lighter music definitely falling into possibly being categorized as that genre, but they didn’t fully embrace it until In Rainbows came. The album is imbued with a very artsy, intimate, and delicate sound that is (relatively speaking) almost as bohemian as the enthusiastically-discussed and swiftly-discontinued “pay what you want” system that the album was released on. As a whole, the album hardly takes a liking to raising its voice, finding a safe haven in simple yet irresistible ditties such as “15 Step”, “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”, “All I Need”, “Nude”, and “Reckoner”, but its quietness also serves to a bit of detriment. If it wasn’t for more energizing tracks like “Bodysnatchers” and “Jigsaw”, although they’re few and far between, this album would be a snoozefest.