As impenetrable as the band may sometimes sound, Radiohead is also apparently incapable of recording a boring album.
Eight months after the release of the ambient wonder wave known as Kid A, the British bastion of thought-provoking rock has returned with the companion piece Amnesiac. The two discs were recorded during the same sessions, and though it might have made more sense to simply release a double album, they are slightly easier to digest individually.
Full of sputtering beeps, gizmos, rhythm loops, and electronica, Amnesiac isn't what one might have expected from what was originally expected to be a more structured follow-up. Frontman Thom Yorke and company instead threw structure out the window, from the strange brew of a set opener (“Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”) through sci-fi–like techno-babble (“Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors”) and bizarre backwards bantering (“Like Spinning Plates”).
It's certainly a trip, overly indulgent at times and rarely as satisfying as Kid A or the band's 1997 masterpiece OK Computer. But there are times when the pieces fall brilliantly together, especially during the rippling “Knives Out,” which features an exquisite Yorke vocal, and the eerie, suicidal, piano-based “Pyramid Song.”
Radiohead could have trimmed some of the filler here or packed some of the best moments onto Kid A. But the group's here for the long run and this is just one more entry in an ever-expanding catalog of musically enlightening curiosities.