Pablo Honey (2009 Collector's Edition)


EMI, 2009

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The only Radiohead album that never gets any attention, in its unassuming way, even sixteen years after its release, sounds solid and original as any of the band’s more beloved works. 

There is way more to this album than its sole contribution to Radiohead’s initial leap to fame, “Creep”. Although deemed as a seed of the grunge era, Pablo Honey – aside of “Creep” – is to a greater extent a product of the shriveling shoegazer/noise-pop era of its time than anything else with a “grunge” label on it. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Pablo Honey often gets lost in dreamscapes; most of its tight pop-rock numbers loosen up at some point or the other, ending in fits of bountiful noises with no sense of urgency and all the reserved calmness in the world. Not quite the Sonic Youth material, but there’s something to be said about the slightly ambitious experimentalism and hint of eccentricity of this record.

The sonic textures here are not as complex as the ones on OK Computer or as audaciously bizarre as on Kid A. But they have a raw impulsive energy that is refreshing. Whereas later albums would get political and cynical, the simplicity in the juvenile discontent on Pablo Honey gives it a level of sincerity that has been completely lost on subsequent releases.

EMI’s desperation shows, however, as they pack everything but the kitchen sink into the second disc of this set – 22 tracks in all. But it doesn’t turn out as boring as it ought to, even  in spite of the fact that lot of the tracks from the original record that are repeated more than once on demos and live recordings are almost identical to their original versions. Exceptions to this are the acoustic version of “Creep,” a full-blown rock version of the acoustic ballad “Thinking Of You,” and the US version of “Stop Whispering,” which almost sounds like a track from The Bends era with its delicate, melodic guitars. The B-sides and rarities, on the other hand make fantastic additions, and the best cuts come out of this bunch: “Inside My Head,” “Coke Babies,” “Pop Is Dead” and “Nothing Touches Me.”

The only difference between Pablo Honey and other Radiohead albums is that this disc did not change the landscape of rock music as we know it. This is a big one, but still, if Pablo Honey were the only album Radiohead ever released, it would have been a classic instead of having to suffer the curse of neglect.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+



© 2009 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.