Radiohead is the greatest band ever. Their style is completely innovative and their creativity is unmatched. Of their nine studio albums, four of them can easily be argued as the greatest of all time: OK Computer, Kid A, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows.
This is my ratings/reviews of all nine Radiohead albums. They are in order based on rating. It's hard to sort the top four since they're all so good (also because I find them all to be on about the same level), so I'll list those in the order that I acquired them.
Ratings are on a 1-5 scale, measured with Modified Bear Heads. For the uninitiated, that's a symbol used by Radiohead starting with Kid A, coming from here.
In Rainbows comes first. This is the album that initially got me into Radiohead. The opening track, "15 Step", kicks the album off in dynamic and engaging 5/4 time. It immediately jumps into the rich, powerful riff of "Bodysnatchers", and marches on into history from there. Highlights include "Reckoner", "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", "All I Need", and "Jigsaw Falling Into Place". Well, that's over half the record. Okay, it's really good, if you couldn't figure that out.
Plus, the Scotch Mist tape came from this album. That's really just icing on the cake though.
In Rainbows has a special place in my heart. It showed me what music really could be, proved to be one of the best ever, and gets 5/5 Modified Bear Heads.
Next comes Kid A. This is the album that defined the quintessential Radiohead sound. It marked a drastic departure from the rock music they were making earlier, utilizing synthesizers and computer sounds more heavily, as well as influences from other genres. "The National Anthem" incorporates jazz influences through both instrument choice and the abnormal beat/note progressions common in modal jazz. "Idioteque" is probably the closest thing to dance music that Radiohead has ever made.
Overall, Kid A is one of the most immersive and complex albums in history. I give it 5/5 Modified Bear Heads.
If "Paranoid Android" was the only song on it, OK Computer would still be included in my top four. That song is a sonic extravaganza unlike anything before or since. Seven minutes in heaven should instead refer to listening to "Paranoid Android". It's that good.
Yet OK Computer is full of so many other incredible tunes, perfectly arranged so the album flows smoother than a Lincoln rides. "Airbag", "Karma Police", "Electioneering", "Subterranean Homesick Alien", just to name some hallmarks -- shit, that's almost half the album. Well, hopefully you get the idea then. This is an incredible record. There's a reason Radiohead became international superstars following its release.
5/5 Modified Bear Heads, no doubt about it.
5/5 Modified Bear Heads.
After five years with no new music, Radiohead came back with A Moon Shaped Pool. And it was worth the wait.
The band went classical in a way with this record, utilizing string instruments instead of computers, and nearly eliminating the guitars in preference of the piano.
In true Radiohead fashion, A Moon Shaped Pool was a suprise release, with its announcement coming just two days before the record became avalable. Teasers and music videos preceded the announcement, along with a complete wipe of all Radiohead social media.
The slower pace of the album makes it work wonderfully as a whole, but there are some single song highlights to point out as well: "Burn The Witch" is a great opener for the record; "Identikit" amps the energy back up to keep you engaged in the record; "True Love Waits" makes its long awaited album deput with a new, more somber redition. Makes me cry every fucking time, it's so beautiful and sad.
Another knockout record. 5/5 Modified Bear Heads.
Coming just one year after Kid A, Amnesiac often gets overshadowed by its older brother. Both records came from the same recording sessions, so people sometimes refer to Amnesiac as the Kid A B-sides. I wouldn't go quite that far with it, but this is definitely the lesser of the two. Still, there's a symbiotic relationship between the two records: Kid A defined a genre, Amnesiac refined it.
"Pyramid Song" is a fan favorite, dripping with sonic complexity. "I Might Be Wrong" has a nice mix of what's to come (vibes like The King of Limbs). "Life In A Glass House" brings in a whole jazz section for a bit of added awesome.
Arguably the best album of 2001. Amnesiac easily scoops up 4/5 Modified Bear Heads.
4/5 Modified Bear Heads.
This is an interesting one. The King of Limbs moved away from the heavily melodic structure of In Rainbows and focused more heavily on movement as the primary sonic driver. Good luck finding a hook anywhere on this album; instead, the band used the music to imply motion and movement. The iconic Thom Yorke dancing meme originated from the "Lotus Flower" video. Thom's dance may be funny, but there really isn't a better set of motions to concoct for that tune.
It's interesting and high quality, but definitely not their best work. The King of Limbs gets 4/5 Modified Bear Heads.
Pablo Honey is easily Radiohead's worst album (though it is still pretty damn good -- testifying to the band's incredible talent). Their first album, it was released before Radiohead knew what Radiohead was. It's pretty stock early-1990s alternative-rock. There's not much that really sets it apart from the rest of the top-tier alt-rock bands of the time. The screaming (quite literally) example of higher quality present here is "Creep". This mega-hit is what put Radiohead on the map -- and rightfully so. Full of emotion, topped off with Thom's agonized wail, it's probably the strongest song the band put out until "Paranoid Android" in 1997.
A decent album, but nothing like the rest of the discography. Pablo Honey gets 3/5 Modified Bear Heads.