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2 minute read
Christopher John Farley

The British rock band Radiohead’s futuristic new album OK Computer (Capitol) is a bit like the troubled Russian space station Mir–it’s a cool place to visit, but if you stay too long, things could start breaking down. The album’s sound is refreshingly unique: long, meandering, melodic passages that take their own sweet time to work themselves out; jangling, spacey guitar work–all of it threaded together by singer Thom Yorke’s yearning tenor, hitting and holding notes with almost operatic emotion. The lyrics display an X-Files-ish romanticism: one song, Subterranean Homesick Alien, is about a man who longs to be abducted by UFOs.

The second half of this album, unfortunately, is mostly lost in space. While the first half-dozen tracks reward repeated listenings with melodies that grow and bloom with familiarity, there is often no structure to be found in the remaining half-dozen numbers. Songs wander and then wander off, promising much and then dwindling away to nothing. OK Computer does contain some complex, lovely music–the welcoming openness of Airbag; the baroque beauty of Paranoid Android; the steady, solemn build of Let Down. On those songs, this album takes flight, achieves orbit and looks down on all the earthbound bands below that are afraid to take such stylistic chances. But listeners should beware: there’s only so much oxygen.

–By Christopher John Farley

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