After recording so much material that it can (and will) be released as two separate albums, Radiohead
have finally narrowed down the track listing for their upcoming fourth outing -- a ten-track album full of sweeping epics, strings, brass and even blues -- to be called Kid A
, due Oct. 3. Some of the material on the band's follow-up to 1997's critically acclaimed OK Computer
was debuted during the 1998 tour for that album, though everything has been completely revamped, as detailed in guitarist Ed O'Brien's session diaries on the band's Web site (www.radiohead.com
"When we made our last three albums, there were time restrictions," O'Brien wrote. "We no longer have these . . . We have been forced to confront certain things -- like what the fuck are we doing exactly . . . it's taken us seven years to get this sort of freedom, and it's what we always wanted, but it could be so easy to fuck it all up."
After spending studio time over the last year in Copenhagen, Paris, and Gloucestershire, England, the band wrapped up recording last month and has now decided on the running order for Kid A
: "Everything in Its Right Place," "Kid A," "The National Anthem," "How to Disappear Completely," "Treefingers," "Optimistic," "In Limbo," "Idioteque," "Morning Bell" and "Motion Picture Soundtrack."
"How To Disappear Completely," which debuted during a Los Angeles performance during Radiohead's 1998 OK Computer
tour, used to be called "This Is Not Happening" and was later referred to as "How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found," a reference to an out-of-print how-to book on assuming new identities. The epic, floating "Disappear," which used to be more guitar-driven, now features an extensive string section.
"We've kind of shirked away from strings in the past," O'Brien wrote, "as they seem to have been recorded in the same manner for the last thirty years (ever since the Beatles). [Guitarist] Jonny [Greenwood] is particularly keen to use an orchestra but not in the standard cliched way. More like the end of 'Climbing Up the Walls.'" The end result, O'Brien wrote, is that the song now "sounds like the string section from Mars. Jonny has this uncanny ability to bring in weird chords, that at first distract you but after a couple of listens completely make sense . . . It's just a matter of getting on his planet."
The now-more-atmospheric "Motion Picture Soundtrack" was also played on the OK Computer
tour, usually as an encore with frontman Thom Yorke solo on an acoustic guitar. The song begins, "White wine and sleeping pills/Help me get back to your arms/Cheap sex and sad films/Help me get back where I belong."
New songs to be on Kid A
, which were debuted in France last month, include "The National Anthem" (where an eight-piece jazz ensemble joins the band "Charlie Mingus
-style"), "Everything in Its Right Place" (which samples Yorke's voice repeating such phrases as "yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon") and "Morning Bell" (which finds Yorke searching for a parked car and surrealistically dividing up property, down to cutting keys in half).
Also debuted live in June, "Optimistic," which is actually darker than the title suggests, reminds O'Brien of "PJ Harvey
blues stuff . . . it's blinding." The song has a unnerving nursery rhyme effect, with this-little-piggie lyrics: "This one's optimistic/This one went to market/This one just crawled out of the swamp/This one drops a payload."
"The running order for an album is so important," O'Brien wrote. "I don't think you have any idea how vital it is until you actually fuck it up, which we did big time on the first record . . . For OK Computer
it was a nightmare, agendas had been set and at one time it was like bloody horse-trading." This time, however, seems to have pleased the band a bit more.
Written by JENNIFER VINEYARD for RollingStone.com News