#shfl11: Radiohead – How To Disappear Completely

Whilst Kid A, the album that How To Disappear Completely is taken from, may have been named by Pitchfork, Rolling Stone & The Times as the best album of the noughties, I’d guess that for those of us who aren’t music critics or die-hard fans of the band, it doesn’t get anywhere near as much play as other Radiohead releases, probably coming somewhere between their (underrated) debut album Pablo Honey and, its even more abstract sister-release, Amnesiac.

Kid A is undoubtedly a brave collection of music, with no official singles, and music that bore more resemblance to the output of Mo’ Wax and Aphex Twin than their previous releases. With its sparse instrumentation, muffled beats and angular rhythms, the album certainly wasn’t aimed at the mass market. Nick Hornby even suggested that, similar to Lou Reed’s Metal Music Machine it was an attempt at “commercial suicide”. That review received a lot of criticism, some rather over-blown, but I’d argue that he has a point, even if some of the tracks, such as Everything In Its Right Place and The National Anthem are truly great.

However, even when trying their best to be obtuse & abstract, there is something in Radiohead they just can’t get away from: their ability to write killer tunes. How To Disappear Completely is one of the most ‘normal’ tracks on Kid A and that’s really no bad thing. Although it verges on being Radiohead by numbers, with it’s slow build, epic climax, and haunting melodies, amongst the, admittedly very artistic, insanity that makes up much of Kid A, it’s like an oasis of calm.

How To Disappear Completely may be unlikely to make lists of the best ever Radiohead songs to my ears, it makes a very pleasing break when fighting through the artistic challenge that is Kid A.

#shfl11 is a self-set challenge to write a post every day in 2011 about whatever song pops up 1st on shuffle on my iPod.

Radiohead image by Wonker on flickr

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