One of my favorite websites to casually peruse when I’m bored is TVTropes.org. It’s kind of like wikipedia for pop culture. It cleverly examines the various tropes or cliches of mediums with a bit of self-knowing humor and love for what it’s analyzing. One of the tropes is “Everybody Remembers the Stripper” which describes an incident where a minor and unimportant detail overshadow the rest of the work, like Jason Biggs having sex with a pie or the big reveal of The Crying Game. I’ll admit now that I suffered from a similar phenomenon concerning Icelandic musician Bjork. My knowledge of her was pretty much cemented solely in the fact that she wore a ridiculous swan dress to the Oscars. I had no idea, prior to yesterday, that she was also capable of making extraordinarily beautiful albums like her 2001 LP Vespertine.
Vespertine is what I imagine Kid A or OK Computer would have sounded like if Radiohead had a female singer and were intent on sexing you up. It’s ambient and electronic but so overtly sexual that you may feel like you need to take a cold shower when the album is over. From her sultry vocals to the up-front sexual imagery of the album, this album does the impossible which is turning cold electronic sounds into the soundtrack of lust and passion. Her voice/music is like sex distilled into its purest form. Songs like “It’s Not Up to You” with its string crescendos overwhelms you with its sonic power and emotional force. Other highlighted tracks include “Pagan Poetry” and “Aurora”.
If you don’t appreciate electronica or ambient music, then you probably aren’t going to enjoy this album cause that’s what it essence boils down to. If you can’t handle an album that may get you a little hot under the collar with its raw sexuality, then it’s probably not for you. However, I personally found it to be a revelation. Now, I can finally appreciate Bjork for her beautiful music and not her reputation as a crazy person.
Final Score: B+
Everybody who is a real music lover can remember the exact album that forever changed the way that they listened to music. This is the album that would ultimately redefine the limitations that they believed music to be hindered by. When I was younger (read “high school”), that album was The Beatles Abbey Road, although it’s originality and value has been tarnished by decades of rock bands trying to capture the sound of The Beatles without being able to capture the spirit or talent that made The Beatles so transcendent. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I would ultimately be exposed to perhaps the most important band to come along since The Beatles. This band of course was Radiohead, and it is their magnum opus Kid A that I have decided to write my initial blog post about.
It should be stated very clearly that when I first heard this album, I absolutely loathed it. It was in such direct confrontation with everything that I thought I understood about the way music was to be composed, played, and presented to the masses, that my brain simply couldn’t process the majestic undertaking that it truly was. But I forced myself to listen to it a couple more times, and then suddenly, I gained this amazing awakening about the true beauty and complexity of the album and the way that I listened to music would be changed forever. My biggest problem in enjoying this album was that I had been trained to listen for “singles”, to enjoy music that I only had to have pay attention to, not digest like a complex novel. When I simply listened to the music, allowed myself to become lost in the sonic waves that Thom Yorke and company set forth and freed myself from other tasks or distractions, I discovered an album that was beating with such energy and sheer beauty that I was in shock that I had disliked it so much in the beginning.
I literally get chills every time I hear the opening notes of the albums first track “Everything In Its Right Place” and am nearly hypnotized by Yorke’s passionate assertion that “There are two colors in my head.” From the nearly rock sounding “National Anthem” to the electronic masterpiece “Idioteque” which serves as my favorite track on the album, Kid A constantly serves as a guide on a fantastic voyage into the possibilities of music. If you have the ability to just sit down and listen to this album the way it deserves to be listened to, you are in for what is easily one of the greatest albums ever made and is without a doubt, the best or second best album of the 2000′s.
Final Score: A+