The Bends


Capitol Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum


In one of my previous reviews I mentioned my disagreement with Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time. I would like to make an exception in the case of The Bends, Radiohead’s second full-length release, because the magazine got it right when they said this was better than OK Computer.

This is not to say that OK Computer isn’t a monumental album, which it was (and their last great one at that). OK Computer may have been more innovative and influential but that does not make up for quality, which is something my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Bends is definitely not lacking.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly at what places you are going to find pleasure within this album because it is literally that close to being perfect. Not one song even comes close to being defined as filler. And what helps bump this up over OK Computer are changes in mood and tone throughout. You will find the typical somber Radiohead experience on songs like “Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” which are two incredible songs, but the rest of the album is actually quite different from their latter material. What do I mean by that? They rock out.

Just take a listen to “Just” and “My Iron Lung.” On the former, a short acoustic riff explodes into an electric, towering guitar attack. The chorus is instantly catchy, but the real treat is the absolutely addictive solo at the end. “My Iron Lung” is just one of those songs, hands down the best song Radiohead has recorded and better than most songs any band has recorded. Other bands should take notes. A beautifully melodic riff is backed by a solid rhythm laid down by bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway. There really isn’t much of a chorus and then Radiohead further disorganizes the song by changing volumes all over the place, which makes the song that much better. The blistering solo at the end leaves you speechless, and you find your index finger on the repeat button before you know it.

I could go into detail about every song on the album, but that would defeat the purpose of this review. In fact, I think it essential not to say anymore. I’m going to let the music speak for itself on this one because the more you don’t know, the better it will be when you find out. And trust me, you need to find out. If you like alternative rock and don’t own this album, put off all other things that you were going to, or were thinking about doing, and get it.

Rating: A

User Rating: B+


This cd is perhaps the most underrated cd of all time! I can put this on in my truck, drive 6 hours, and not reach over once to skip to the next tune (like we all do when a song comes on that we don't like). Every song is great. I hope Radiohead can make another album in this style, because they're so good at it. Thom, Johnny, Ed... it's time to put away the synths and macs and pick up them there 6 strings and start bashing away! Make another masterpiece like The Bends!

© 2006 Brian Birnbaum 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 Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.