Who could have guessed, when Radiohead's obnoxiously overexposed debut single "Creep" came out in 1993, that the band's two subsequent albums would be such elegant artistic triumphs? The Bends, Radiohead's 1995 sophomore release, was a creative success from start to finish, held together by stunningly dramatic songs like the hit "Fake Plastic Trees." But as good as The Bends is—and it's very, very good—the new OK Computer is on an entirely different level. It isn't necessarily better than The Bends; it's not nearly as instantly accessible, for starters. But it's much more ambitious and far-reaching, packed with meandering, shape-shifting, busy, spaced-out epics that are as unpredictable as they often are beautiful. It's hard to imagine anything here finding a great deal of success in a Hanson-saturated radio world. But OK Computer needs to be heard as a whole anyway: The songs blend together in such a way that they'd seem out of context when heard between Spice Girls and Collective Soul. That isn't to say there aren't marvelous moments spread throughout OK Computer—there's nary a weak spot—but you won't soon forget "Airbag," "Exit Music (For A Film)," "Letdown" or the amazing epic single, "Paranoid Android." You'll discover more the more you listen to it, and that fact alone makes the album downright essential.
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