OK Computer is rightly lauded as a pristine, magnificent album. A defining moment in modern British music, which made Radiohead the hottest property on these shores. The waves of OK Computer are still reverberating over 25 years after its release but in its immediate aftermath, Radiohead were sitting on their best work, surrounded by critical and popular acclaim. In 2023, they are a band who went on to achieve so much post-1997 and for me, the most fundamental and important reason for that was the release of their incredible 2000 album, Kid A.
Inspired by a lot of the vibrant electronic music in the 1990s and most notably Björk’s Homogenic, Kid A was a divergence from what made Radiohead so brilliant on OK Computer. Kid A embraces rhythm over melody, the opener ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ is a pulsating and complex track which perfectly establishes the palette for the upcoming songs. There’s a few songs on the first side which are on the face of it peculiar instrumentals but are essential in the wider track list. ‘The National Anthem’ is Radiohead at their best, irresistible instrumentation dovetailing with percussive excellence. This is quickly followed by ‘How To Disappear Completely’, one of the most bleak yet stunning songs in their entire catalogue. ‘Optimistic’ is another great track, which lies in the middle of the album before we hit the remarkable ‘Idioteque’ a staple of Radiohead set-lists since it’s release.
For me, this is a seriously impressive album, the best band at the time really flexing their creative muscles, the songs are right out of the top drawer. But for me, the reason this album is so special is what it was and when it came out. Radiohead had just released their seminal work but weren’t content with that and continued to push further, into more abstract territory. The result was magnificent.