Those who were expecting a rock and roll return to form on Radiohead's follow-up to Kid A may be in for a surprise upon hearing the quirky sounds emanating from Amnesiac.
Clocking in at 44 minutes, Radiohead's fifth album presents more of the same wide-open experimental spaces heard on Kid A with a couple of verse-chorus-verse-style pop songs thrown in for good measure (see "Radiohead Line Up Amnesiac Tracks").
"After years of waiting/ Nothing" are the first lyrics Thom Yorke utters on Amnesiac's opening track, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box." It could be what Yorke expects to hear from antsy fans hoping for the return of the less-quirky Radiohead of old. Yorke then responds with the chorus "I'm a reasonable man/ Get off my case."
Touché, Mr. Yorke.
From there, things ease up a notch for the orchestral "Pyramid Song" [RealVideo]. Balladesque and brimming with hushed piano chords, it could be Radiohead's answer to the Beatles' "Yesterday." A "Pyramid Song" video has already been prepped and is available at MTV.co.uk.
The rest of Amnesiac wavers between lo-fi, stripped-down rock ("Knives Out"), jarring tech-noise ("Like Spinning Plates") and similar Kid A-style weirdness. There's even a Kid A epilogue of sorts "Amnesiac/Morning Bell," a slightly updated version of the Kid A song "Morning Bell."
"Amnesiac/Morning Bell" isn't the only song that sounds familiar, though. "I Might Be Wrong" features a guitar line not unlike the crunchy twang heard in Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus."
All told, the album is not the collection of accessible singles a la "Creep" and "Karma Police" that many had predicted it would be. Rather, with its heavy reliance on loops and effects, it is more like Kid A than not.
Radiohead have not yet said whether they'll tour behind Amnesiac, but the band has announced a U.K. summer show with co-headliner Beck. The all-day event, whose full lineup has not yet been unveiled, will take place July 7 in Oxford, according to the band's Web site, www.radiohead.com. A spokesperson at Capitol Records would not comment on information given on the group's site.
Coinciding with the June 5 release of Amnesiac will be the launch of an Instant Messenger-like device called Active Buddy that delivers band-related content to fans, such as a streaming video for "Pyramid Song" and the Amnesiac track "Dollars & Cents," recorded live in Copenhagen on September 8, 2000.
"You'll be able to hear the whole album, download exclusive tracks, watch videos," the Capitol spokesperson said.
The software will be available on Capitol's Web site at www.hollywoodandvine.com/radiohead.