Radiohead - The Bends
On March 13, 1995, "The Bends" was released - ,"Radiohead's second studio album, and it's undoubtedly an age-old album, perhaps even the most beautiful of the band's albums.
We hope we did not upset anyone with this statement, we still hold the opinion that "OK Computer" is the band's most complete and perfect album, an album on the verge of a masterpiece. But at the same time, over time and after many hours of listening we are willing to swear that there are days when the album "The Bends" is even smoother to our ears, better than its sharpened and polished brother. There are days when we prefer the tremolo effect in the opening song "Planet Telex" over the sawing distortion of "Airbag", there are times when we prefer to smell "Fake Plastic Trees" than to escape from the "Karma Police" and there are days when we just prefer to watch a man lying on The sidewalk and wondering what he whispers to whoever approaches him in the music video of the amazing song "Just", than to stare at Thom York drowning inside an aquarium in an equally amazing song "No Surprises".
So "The Bends" is probably Radiohead's disillusionment album, the album that bridges the gap between the immature, rough and even banal sound of the debut album "Pablo Honey" and the meticulous production and tight sound of "OK Computer". It has on the one hand the innocence and purity of "Pablo Honey" and on the other hand the sophistication and dynamism of "OK Computer".
The album gives us the ultimate combination of mowing and kicking songs alongside soft and melodic passages.
It opens with the amazing and moving "Planet Telex", whose original name was "Planet Xerox" but changed to avoid the printer company's copyright claim. The minimalist drum roles in the song were composed of various segments that were recorded during the sessions for the album and played in a loop. Thom recorded his singing roles in one take while lying on the floor drunk. The band returned from a pub straight to the studio and York simply drank too much and decided to improvise.
The theme song "The Bends" was written even before the band released their debut album - "Pablo Honey". The band used to perform it in gigs long before it was recorded for an album bearing its name. The background noise at the opening of the song was recorded by York at the entrance to the hotel where he was staying in the US. He noted that he was influenced by David Bowie in writing the song and that his lyrics are humorous.
It's not clear to us why because we really like it, but York was quoted as saying that the song "High and Dry" is not a bad song, but the worse one! The song was recorded as a demo during the recording of the debut album "Pablo Honey" but did not get into it.
The album continues with the quiet and melancholy atmosphere song "Fake Plastic Trees". York was greatly influenced by artist Jeff Buckley and recorded the song after attending his show. He immediately ran to the studio and in two takes recorded the vocals when immediately afterwards he burst into tears. It is interesting to note that this song entered the list of the 500 greatest songs of all time by the "Rolling Stone" magazine. Interestingly, the bass guitar Colin Greenwood played in the song is a 1960s Fender Precision, which once belonged to legendary bassist Steve Harris.
Regarding the song "Just", York stated that it is the result of a competition between him and Johnny Greenwood on who will put more chords into one song. The song was recorded live in the studio and no additional guitar layers were recorded.
The track "My Iron Lung" is the theme song of the EP that the band released in September 1994. The song was written in response to the success of the hit "Creep" and after the band felt "suffocated" by the fact that they became known only thanks to it.
The song "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is one of the most beautiful and moving on the album. The passage of the disjointed chords is simply mesmerizing and York's singing sounds like a caressing lament here. York noted that he was influenced in writing the song by "R.E.M." and from the novel "The Famished Road" by Nigerian writer Ben Okri.
And there's also "Bullet Proof.. I Wish I Was" which breaks us to pieces and "Black Star" in which York transcends himself in such a special melody in singing, which travels above and below chords and sounds, and we can go on and on.
Listen to the album at: Spotify, Apple Music