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 its aesthetic 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 Petrusich
I love this review by Amanda Petrusich on Pitchfork for one album that held a lot of bad memories for me. It inevitably became the soundtrack to a very bad personal patch.