The buzzes and hums on this record are just as comforting as they are discomforting. Singer Thom Yorke still enunciates words until the simplest phrases (like the "I'm a reasonable man/Get off my case" refrain of "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box") become theses, and he bends and shapes the sounds of them to the point where he and they become part of the music. Amnesiac eventually reaches a state of tranquillity all its own, happiness built on the surrounding unsettling environment.
But Kid A got there first, and Amnesiac can't help but feel like Kid Amnesiac at times. It's a great record -- as challenging and imaginative as its ancestor, yet devoid of the metaphorical buzz that heralded the first birth last October (this is, let's face it, Kid B). Commercial considerations are again discarded, although the sweeping "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" has a chance for airplay, and the mournful piano ballad "Pyramid Song" is mostly gimmick-free. Yorke even sings on top of a waltzing combo on the closing "Life in a Glasshouse," which is a sign of either harmonious acceptance or the apocalypse. With Kid A/Amnesiac, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference.
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