Friday, March 23, 2007
Arcade Fire vs Radiohead
A couple of weeks ago, I got the new album by the Arcade Fire - Neon Bible. It is very very good, particularly the grand Intervention (it has pipe organs on it!!) which will get plenty of airing when I venture on to the airwaves of South Manchester on Refresh FM. But then I made a mistake. You see, it is such a good album that it got me thinking about others that have grabbed my attention in the same way in the past. That then got me thinking about OK Computer by Radiohead. So I toddled off and listened to Neon Bible and OK Computer back to back.
Now why, I hear you cry, is that a mistake?
Well, the problem is that as good as Neon Bible is, it pales into insignifiance next to OK Computer, which is simply so much better than anything else.
OK Computer is now coming up to being 10 years old and is still one of the few albums that I can sit down and listen to while doing nothing else. It is a magnificently rich and complex album that rewards many repeat listens. There is not a wasted lyric, note, distortion, string or bleep anywhere on it, it is one of those rare occasions when everything is spot on. Despite the intervening decade it has barely dated and still sounds fresh.
It has so many great songs on it; the furious Electioneering, the beautifully melancholic No Surprises, the epic Let Down as well as Karma Police and Paranoid Android. It also signalled Radiohead's transformation from a great rock band into the musical pioneers that they have become. It is the sound of a band at their absolute peak. I wonder if some of the melancholy feeling on the album comes from the realisation that no matter what they produced after this, they would probably never scale these heights again. And despite the enviously high quality of Radiohead's output since OK Computer, none of it is as good.
OK Computer has been lauded far and wide since its release. If you have never heard it, then I implore you, as it comes up to its 10th birthday to seek out a copy and revel in what is, in my opinion - and that of many many others, simply the greatest album of all time....