Collection: 20. Radiohead - Kid A

A new, uniquely fearless kind of rock record for a new, increasingly fearful century, Radiohead’s fourth album, released in October 2000, remains one of the more stunning sonic makeovers in music history. The band had the freedom to do whatever it wanted after its 1997 alt-rock breakthrough, OK Computer [see No. 42]. “Everyone expected us to become this U2 type of band, with that stadium credibility,” bassist Colin Greenwood said in 2001.

Instead, frontman Thom Yorke gorged on albums by avant-techno innovator Aphex Twin and other artists on the Warp Records roster, inspiring him to put down his guitar and embrace the glacial beauty of abstract electronics, glitchy beats, and the challenge of free-form composition. “It was difficult for the others [in the band], ’cause when you’re working with a synthesizer it’s like there’s no connection,” Yorke said in 2017. What emerged was at once scary and enveloping, pitched between deep alienation and profound tenderness — from the womblike ambient flow of “Everything in Its Right Place” to the free-jazz implosion “The National Anthem” to the gizmo-groove paranoia of “Idioteque.”

“I find it difficult to think of the path we’ve chosen as ‘rock music,’ ” Yorke told Rolling Stone in 2000. “Kid A is like getting a massive eraser out and starting again.” -

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