Radiohead is the band hailing from Oxfordshire. They are often praised as being amongst the most creative musical groups of their era, noted for their multilayered songs and often radical evolutions from album to album. They were also seen by some to have maintained a spirit of musical and political independence despite recording for EMI, a major label.
Perhaps the most misunderstood record in Radiohead’s catalogue, ‘Amnesiac’ constantly stirs up hot debate between Radiohead fans. Some claim it’s a much more “whole” album than its predecessor, ‘Kid A’ whilst others hastily treat this as the red-headed step-sister among Radiohead records with the notion that these are a bunch of throwaway songs- leftovers from the ‘Kid A’ sessions. For me, something always struck me about this record, and for some strange reason this was the most easily accessible Radiohead album for me. The sound enveloped me, whisked me away to some dark, strange land.
There isn’t an inkling of pop sensibility found within ‘Amnesiac’, nor a bit of hope in the eleven tracks that lie therein. The closing track ‘Life in a Glass House’, an hypnotic New Orleans style jazz number leaves the listener in utter despair. The track is wrenching, and much the way Beethoven described his 5th Symphony as “Fate knocking on the door”, ‘Life in a Glass House’ is the unavoidable truth trying desperately to break in. ‘Knives Out’ which is probably the most straight-forward, stripped down rock number on the album and most popular single only serves to reinforce the horrific truth ‘Amnesiac’ seems to evoke.
The fact that I enjoy this record and allow myself to immerse myself in the landscape isn’t so much out of my own personal despair; on the contrary. ‘Kid A’ manages to remain articulate, cold, and flawless throughout and if not a 10/10 than easily a 9, and not a step lower. What ‘Amnesiac’ lacks in the whole, cohesive sense that ‘Ok Computer’ and ‘Kid A’ perfected, it more than makes up for in a fluid, atmospheric exhibition. Though it is an emotionally draining journey to listen to, ‘Amnesiac’ is warm, vibrant, and thickly layered with tonal beauty. Vincent Van Gogh claimed that he thought the night sky to be more alive and richly colored than the day. This is what makes ‘Amnesiac’ shine.
Review by Emma Loggins