Radiohead goes back in time with the reissue of his albums Child A and Amnesiac as well as several unreleased tracks in a project called Kid A Mnesia. While most of the songs themselves aren’t new to fans, these updated and new releases provide a more in-depth look at the recording process of previous Radiohead albums.
Stylistically, the new tracks are quite on par with Child A and Amnesiac. The constant flow of electronic beats runs through the veins of the material but leaves little room for Thom Yorke’s voice. His lyrics are sparse and almost nonexistent on the second half of the material. Child A and Amnesiac were seen as an unexpected departure from the band’s usual style, and Kid A Mnesia is indeed the child of the two albums.
While this collection of pieces is nice, most of the pieces are a bit half-cooked. Much of the hardware only works in the context of Child A and Amnesiac. Some tracks don’t sound fully formed, and this is clear from their run time. “Pyramid Strings” is barely a minute long while its later-ending counterpart on the tracklist, “Pyramid Song,” lasts nearly five minutes. It’s disappointing that in 20 years these songs haven’t been fleshed out further. At the same time, these recordings still serve as a time capsule of this era in Radiohead’s history.
The new album also lacks transitions between each track that would make the whole feel whole. The entire album appears to be a collection of ideas that went unchecked, which would have been enough to make the release exciting if Radiohead had tried to mix them up a bit better. In the second half of the album, some songs try to connect a little better, but the whole album remains disconnected. The transition from “Pulk / Pull (True Love Waits Version)” to “Untitled v2”, for example, is particularly shocking as the tracks differ greatly in tone. The rambling nature of the album makes it feel like an amateur for Radiohead.
“Follow Me Around” is probably the most interesting track on the album with its sweet instrumentals, a radical departure from the other songs. The fact that the tender acoustic track was recorded at a time when Radiohead primarily produced electronic music is intriguing and might suggest that the band were heading in a completely different direction when they first started recording. Child A. It’s like a glimpse of a parallel universe and shows how the sound of Child A and Amnesiac.
Kid A Mnesia is a deep dive into one of the most creative periods in Radiohead history. Anyone looking to see again Child A and Amnesiac now has the opportunity to further appreciate the albums through an overview of Radiohead’s creative process. It’s not quite a cohesive album, but it’s worth listening to to witness the development of a beloved band.
Photo courtesy of XL Recordings