OK Computer – Radiohead

This is the kind of album that it’s easy to get lost in; it’s completely earned its legendary status as a complete must-listen. Sure, it begins with the rough guitars of “Airbag”, but it continues through with sounds that are entirely smooth, alluring like the sirens of legend. The standout track is, of course, “Exit Music (For a Film)”, a collapsing slow burn of a song written for Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet and used in everything, with beautiful chords (including powerful use of II, IIb, and viib) and orchestral effects that I’m very into. My personal favorite is actually “Subterranean Homesick Alien”, which boasts a beautiful soundscape backed by ambient noise and keys, a brilliant breakdown on the word “uptight”, and relaxing cymbals. You could make a pastime of listening deeply to this album and trying to determine what kind of sound they’re using at any point. It does change in mood, breaking into the warlike swing of “Electioneering” and the aesthetic dismal monotony (not meant as an insult, but a descriptor) of “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police”, and each of these moods are well-executed and beautiful. It’s an album that is at once Western, futuristic, pretentious, and unsatisfied with itself; these are all things that it is good for music to be, and it’s also got guitar that I like. The vocals are strange, and they wouldn’t work in other music, but they’re cool to think about, they work well here, and they’re an important part of this album’s excellent soundscape.

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