Radiohead are at a point in their history where they no longer have to prove anything. Recording this album in LA was apparently a breeze. A three month affair as opposed to the two years they spent on the 'Kid' / 'Amnesiac' sessions. They've done it again. This is their fifth great album in a row (debut 'Pablo Honey' not really making my 'great' list), and its an album full of charm and confidence.
For starters it opens with a genuine 'rock' track, all guitars and drums a blazing. It seems that the last few years of electronic tinkering hasn't done Johnny Greenwood and Ed O'Brian any damage, they are still a thrilling guitar combination twittering away in their much imitated style. It seems the whole band has stepped up to the plate for this album with drummer Phil Sellway and bassist Colin Greenwood playing better than they ever have, nailing grooves that would have been called "baggy" in 1989. As for ole Thom York, well despite the usual paranoid and freaky lyrics he really seems to be enjoying himself and is singing in that "Fake Plastic Trees" way (check "Little Babies Eyes" and "Scatterbrain" for the evidence). You know, brilliant heartbreaking, lovely. Its not all bread and (stone) roses though, "We Suck Young Blood" is a spooky track, combing a slave-spiritual rhythm with unnerving, glacial production. First single "There There", plus "Myxamatosis" and "A Wolf at the Door" all bubble with a vital energy.
Combining experimentalism with good rock songs, they have managed to achieve something broadly relevant, much like that stubborn era defining masterpiece 'OK Computer'. This is a good thing and a fantastic achievement - up there with their best work. Radiohead's first 'fun' album. Well almost. Recommended.