Radiohead: Kid A Mnesia – the greatest band in the world in 2000/2001

Fri, Nov 5, 2021, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Kid A Mnesia

Artist:
Radiohead

Label:
XL

Genre:
Alternative

Thom Yorke opens Radiohead’s fifth album, Amnesiac, with a declaration: “After years of waiting nothing came.” The tortured singer is presumably referencing a bout of writer’s block following the zeitgeist-shaping success of OK Computer.

Paradoxically, recording sessions with long-term collaborator Nigel Godrich, which were inspired by Brian Eno’s unconventional Oblique Strategies, yielded more than enough songs for a double album. They ultimately chose to release this material as two separate standalone instalments.

Kid A was unveiled amidst a blizzard of hype and incredulity in October 2000. Amnesiac closely followed in May 2001. Kid A/Amnesiac was memorably described by music writer Simon Reynolds as “a threnody for the victims of globalisation”.

Radiohead - If You Say the Word (official video)

Listening to both albums back to back as originally intended is a revelation. It makes the solid case that the superior album by far –and quite possibly the finest of their career – is Amnesiac.

Bonus editions of unreleased material are often bloated exercises in compiling odds and sods, but this package offers stunning alternative versions such as How to Disappear into Strings, a gorgeous reworking of How to Disappear Completely, a Kid A highlight that Thom Yorke reportedly wrote in a Dublin hotel room after headlining the RDS in 1997 (“I walk through walls. I float down the Liffey”).

If You Say the Word would be a delightful single if it was a spanking brand-new cut as opposed to an old outtake. Overall, Kid A Mnesia proves that around the turn of millennium, Radiohead really were the greatest band in the world.