Kid A is one of the more challenging songs on Radiohead’s fourth LP. Much like the album’s opener, Everything in its Right Place, it is distinguished by a conspicuous lack of guitars and heavily compressed vocals from Yorke. While some of the lyrics make clear references to literature and politics, it is unlikely that Thom intended for the song itself to carry a clear intellectual meaning
Radiohead’s previous album OK Computer (1997) may have introduced experimental elements into their sound, but it didn’t become apparent until its follow-up Kid A was released in 2000. It was recorded following an exhaustive world tour in support of OK Computer, which left many of the band’s members burnt out, especially lead singer Thom Yorke, who nearly suffered a mental breakdown and began having writer’s block. Kid A debuted at number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, making it the band’s first album to peak at the top of the latter; it was later certified platinum in the UK in its first week of sales. It initially received a mixed to positive response from critics, although some derided the band’s new aesthetic.
In the wake of OK Computer, it became taken for granted among serious rock fans of all ages that Radiohead not only saved rock from itself, but paved the way toward the future. High praise, but given the static nature of rock in the last half of the '90s, it was easy to see why fans and critics eagerly harnessed their hopes to the one great rock band that wanted to push the limits of its creativity, without grandstanding or pandering. Daunting expectations for anyone, even for a band eager to meet them, so it's little wonder that Kid A was so difficult to complete.
1. Everything In Its Right Place. Listen to Kid A in full in the this site app. Play on this site.
For an album reportedly "lacking" in traditional Radiohead moments, this is the best summation of their former strengths. The track erodes into a light jam before morphing into "In Limbo. I'm lost at sea," Yorke cries over clean, uneasy arpeggios. The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax. It's an album of sparking paradox. It's cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike, infinite yet 48 minutes. It will cleanse your brain of those little crustaceans of worries and inferior albums clinging inside the fold of your gray matter.