Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Pitchfork names "Kid A" best album of the decade.

After Pitchfork's best singles of 2000-2004, Hail To The Thief was named the 39th best album of the decade so far, Amnesiac 21st, and Kid A the 1st!

039: Radiohead Hail to the Thief [Capitol; 2003]
Old habits die hard-- having left the grand spotlight-sweeping gestures of "Creep" and The Bends far behind, Radiohead still can't help but sloganeer disenfranchisement. "The raindrops." "This is the gloaming." "Little babies' eyes." "We want young blood." "Just because you feel it doesn't mean it's there." This isn't subtle stuff, even if Thom Yorke spends a good amount of time singing (mewling, wailing) in a near-whisper. These fragments repeat endlessly, transforming into funereal rallying cries, the perfect chants to accompany these resolute dirges. So damned serious and earnest, these guys. And, of course, there's title of the album, utilizing a horrifically awkward pun to announce itself and its intentions. Yet where the words and their purported import might be cumbersome, the music is sublime--electrostatic shocks mingle with three-penny operatics and Sophoclean choral uprisings as if they're long-lost friends kicking back a few cocktails. Even the Horsemen of the Apocalypse need some down time, y'know? Yes, this is An Important Album, all of it, every scratch and breath, every tic and squeal. But don't let that nonsense stop you from enjoying it. --David Raposa

021: Radiohead Amnesiac [Capitol; 2001]
On what may be Radiohead's classiest and most restrained collection of songs, Thom Yorke ran endurance tests on his repertoire, having cast himself in a guitarless role that might be billed as a fight between his piano man, his personal jesus, and hisparanoid android. Oddly pretty, the album's cynical showtunes slithered through pop history, flinched with futurism, drank dyspepsia, chewed troublegum, shriveled Big Brother, and inflated Chicken Little. Amnesiac crouched in its own deprivation chamber so elegantly that its initial misdiagnosis of being "10 songs in search of an album" would be forgotten if not for the reprise of Kid A's "Morning Bell". But even that echo was recast from a warm distant place, like a clone baby singing itself to sleep in a makeshift womb, its lullabies dreading much more than prequel-envy. --William Bowers

001: Radiohead Kid A [Capitol; 2000]
Exactly how and why Radiohead's Kid A has come to stand as the definitive artistic statement for rock consumers born after 1975 is almost ridiculously difficult to discern. People believed (and continue to believe) in the metaphysical heft of Kid A: in itsaesthetic worth, its innovation, its meaning. In 2000, Kid A felt true and inscrutable; five years later, it somehow still does: From its chilling opening organ figure to its closing silence, Kid A is enormous-- a huge, sweeping testament to Radiohead's ever-swelling worldview.
Kid A was an obvious departure from its predecessor, the guitar-swollen OK Computer, and it alternately challenged and confounded Radiohead's core audience. Regardless, the record's supposed difficulty also lent it a certain sense of gravity: Kid A is confrontational and insistent, mysteriously capable of convincing some of the most stridently anti-electro guitarheads that inorganic flourishes can feel bloody and real. Consequently, in the months following its release, Kid A transformed into an intellectual symbol of sorts, a surprisingly ubiquitous signifier of self. Owning it became "getting it"; getting it became"annointing it." The record's significance as a litmus test was stupid and instant and undeniable: In certain circles, you were only as credible as your relationship to this album. And that kind of intense, unilateral, with-us-or-against-us fandom felt oddly, uncomfortably apropos in the face of all that sound.
It is in this weird sense that Kid A was (and continues to be) the perfect record for its time: Ominous, surreal, and impossibly millennial, its revolutionary tangle of yelpy, apocalyptic vocals, glitchy synths, and beautiful drones is uncertain about both its past and present-- and, accordingly, timeless. --Amanda Petrucsh

Here's Pitchfork's full list


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