I know two things: first, that OK Computer really was a terrific album, and, second, that Amnesiac is possibly just as good and just maybe better. What Maarten on Usenet had to say, after choosing to graciously ignore my vitriol and embrace the suggestion that he reexamine Amnesiac, was that any similarities between Radiohead and Pink Floyd were superficial, and that he found the bleakness of Amnesiac to be a truly impressive thing, lurching, over the course of the album, into territories with which mainstream music shares no borders. It’s Maarten’s choice of the word “bleak” that finds Usenet, whatever its faults, serving as a far better home for informed opinions about music than the mainstream music press. Maarten, an individual with nothing to prove to anybody and no particular axe to grind, read some blowhard on a newsgroup -- myself -- telling him he was wrong about Radiohead, and so, assuming that his correspondent was writing in good faith, he took a second look. The general press, plainly terrified of voicing the wrong opinion and subsequently looking foolish in public, hedged bets right and left, the consensus concluding that Amnesiac was just fine but not as good as OK Computer. Words like “interesting” got used a lot. In the immortal English phrase, we must all join together in response to say: bollocks to that. The problem here is that all these critics assume that there’s only one way to skin a cat. Amnesiac isn’t trying for anything remotely like the effect of OK Computer, which was essentially England’s response to Walt Whitman, delayed a hundred years and updated for technological compatibility. If its mood were different, its lyrical concerns more full of the introspective, panicked-but-ultimately-hopeful sentiments that informed OK Computer, then we might have read some actual reviews of Amnesiac. But people don’t want to actually think about what’s going on with this record. People want to form and opinion, state it, and then get this record the hell out of the changer. It’s just too damned dark.  

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