There was a time when I was would pretty jazzed about a new album from Radiohead. The band was one of my favorites in the late 90s/early 2000s and I ate up not only their albums, but also the EPs, singles and random bootlegs that I would come across in record stores. I was obsessed with the album “OK Computer,” and would get lost in the atmosphere of “Kid A” and “Amnesiac.” I spent a lot of time listening to this band. They made incredible headphone music that was bold, experimental and interesting.
Then something changed.
It had to be around the time “Hail to the Thief” came out. I bought it right away, listened to it a few times and felt nothing. Just nothing. I didn’t get why I felt that. The album itself wasn’t bad, and I thought it was much more coherent than the previous two albums. It just didn’t strike me in anyway. It didn’t pull me in. Maybe it was just one of those things that happens. Not every album by my favorite artists is going to be a home run.
Then a few years later, when “In Rainbows” came out, I listened to it while I was working at the Electric Fetus in St. Cloud. This was a time when bands were also offering fans to name their price for a digital download of new albums. I was so unimpressed with it, I didn’t even bother to offer $0 for a download. I was officially burned out on this band. Even a free album had no appeal to me. I had lost all interest in the band and its music.
It got to a point that I dreaded having to talk to people about Radiohead. When you work in record stores, you kinda have to talk about music with people. But after talking about this band for nearly a decade at that point, I was sick of it. I was tired of justifying what I liked about the band and, even worse, having to defend my stance on why I was unimpressed with some of the band’s material — and there is no conversation I despised more than the ones with Radiohead zealots who refused to see any flaw in the band. I still do dread those kinds of conversations. Of all the bands I have grown to disdain speaking about, it is this band.
My enjoyment of the band wasn’t a phase. I still listen to “Pablo Honey,” “The Bends,” “OK Computer” and the two albums that followed that. Not nearly as often, but I will put those albums on from time to time and for the most part still enjoy them. Maybe it is the pretentious nature of the band that rubs me the wrong way, or the rabid fanbase that I find grating at times, or the fact that while the music still sounds nice and moody and atmospheric, I just don’t give a crap about it because it simply does nothing for me. Maybe all those things combined.
So when I hear about Radiohead releasing a new album, I start feeling drained almost right away, knowing a lot of the pop culture websites I visit will pounce on it like a rabid animal and write about it non-stop. And I will get a headache looking at the photos of Thom Yorke and the gang still looking like morose Gen Xers.
On Sunday, Radiohead released “A Moon Shaped Pool,” and my enthusiasm for the band hit rock bottom. There was a lot of hype — to the point of fans eating pictures of Thom Yorke for some odd reason — and I just felt deflated about the whole thing.
The few songs I have heard once again really do nothing for me. The one thing I do appreciate about the band is that it takes chances. At no time have I ever wanted them to do “OK Computer 2” because we already have “OK Computer.” This is not about me wanting the band to go back to its roots or anything like that. I just don’t have the interest in this band that I once did. Maybe it will come back. Maybe the band will make an album that will speak to me again.