Fifteen years ago, Radiohead released Kid A. It is not hyperbolic to say it changed the face of music, and it definitely changed the face of Radiohead. The album is a demarcation point for the band. They were popular before that, sure. “Creep” put them on the map. OK Computer is a great, much loved album. Kid A, though, was a statement. It reconfigured Radiohead into something decidedly more eerie, more ethereal.
This was not without intent. Past interviews with Thom Yorke see him clearly state that he felt unmoored after OK Computer. More pressingly, he felt rock music was dead, or at least was deserving to die. He declared that rock had “run its course” and noted that he was only listening to electronic music. Yorke decided a change of direction was needed for Radiohead, and for his own sanity. They weren’t going to be a rock band anymore.
There are different designations given to Kid A. Wikipedia alone declares it to be electronica, experimental rock, post-rock, and electronic rock. It’s a decidedly different sound, but it’s also fantastic. From the very opening moment of “Everything In Its Right Place” to the final moments of “Motion Picture Soundtrack” it’s a fascinating, wonderful listen. The move to more electronic music didn’t completely divorce Radiohead from force and brash loudness in their music. “National Anthem” can attest to that, with its cacophony of horns. Nobody is here to call Kid A anything other than one of the best albums of the 2000s. On the other hand, it also has to be held accountable for what it hath wrought.