The Bends

Let’s start by pulling this album out of historical context. It seems like the band does right musically: keyboard effects, fuzz, and vibrato decorate the gaps between the thrashing electric guitar to create a rewarding soundscape, even though the drums feel forced in places (especially “Street Spirit”).  And yet I get impatient with Yorke, because I wish that “something would happen” and give me a reason to sympathize with him. His voice is too sweet to relate the agony of depression. You could argue this is beyond his control, but there are moments in “Bones” that make me think otherwise. His self-absorption is an emotional dampener. He’s forcing it.

Of course, under a historical lens, is album’s influence is unmistakable. It’s well-documented elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it. But just for fun: replace the guitar in “High and Dry” with piano and throw in an even cuddlier voice in Chris Martin. Voila! “The Scientist.”

[“Planet Telex”, “Fake Plastic Trees”, “(Nice Dream)”]