clap clap blog: we have moved
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
So here's my theory on the new Radiohead album: it might actually be a very good thing to leak a highly-anticipated album early, because it gives critics (who will naturally have copies before everyone else) a chance to live with the album for a while, instead of having to turn in a review 3 days after they get it, like they usually do. I say this because I didn't really dig the album at first, except for the last track ("Wolf At the Door") which I'd heard the live version of. Now I likes it, though, and it clearly took a while to grow on me. It's especially hard to differentiate the tracks at first, but when you give it close listenings in little chunks it gets clearer. "Sit Down, Stand Up" is a fucking great song, for instance (love the buildup and the beat it eventually congeals to), as is "We Suck Young Blood" (handclaps are always good). "2+2=5," the opener, is good too, but more importantly, it's where the title of the album comes, "Hail to the Thief." Now, at first this just seems like a needlessly obvious bit of Bush-bashing, but in context (and perhaps I'm not reading the song right), it seems like Thom is directing this epithet at himself (it's immediately followed by "But I'm not!"), so it becomes a more traditional bit of Radiohead self-loathing for a minute, but then it becomes more of a sly bit of self-deprecation, alluding perhaps to the fact that some people responded to the praise of their last two albums with the Jaded Robot-like "Whatever, they just raided the Warp catalog." Of course, that's absurd--if one wanted to have a #1 record in America, avant-garde electronica is probably not the best place to steal from--but it's another nice little instance of Radiohead being (gasp!) happy and/or funny. I've thought this for a while. For instance, despite the Sky TV anchor's reaction to seeing the video for "No Surprises" ("music to slit your wrists to" or something like that) it really is a "nice pop song," as the band called it. I think they meant it in a somewhat negative way, but fuck it, it is a really nice little pop song, and they obviously thought enough of it to record it, put it on OK Computer, and make a video for it, and of course OK Computer was made without any label pressure, so it seems like a genuine decision. Some of the songs on Kid A were genuinely hopeful, and Amnesiac, too, had some very upbeat moments (although I think they totally dropped the ball on "You and Whose Army?" but I'll cover that someday and fix it on up). So people have complained that HTTT has too many slow, ballad-y songs, but these songs all sound generally hopeful, and kind of happy. They're just not as angry as they were before, and that's OK, I think.