Radiohead - The Bends (1995), 7/10

A greatly matured follow up and pivot in sound after Pablo Honey, an album I also enjoy despite the backlash. The Bends, in comparison, certainly has hooks galore and a newfound maturity in sound and theme. The most successful single tracks here are certainly great in their own way, but there is something hiding in the fringe of the rest that foreshadows the raw potential lurking within the band. As an opener, "Planet Telex" is a great representation of their new blending of delicacy and distortion, it is ripe with deeply satisfying guitar work and dynamics. Dynamics is certainly the name of the game in a lot of these songs and will continue to be a strong point for Radiohead in years to come, especially further along during In Rainbows and A Moon Shaped Pool. "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is up there when it comes to picture perfect ending tracks. Still, as I mature and grow to love the peripheries of pop music more than its central players, The Bends has begun to lose its timeless sheen and surface level allure, as has much of Radiohead’s music. Tracks like “High and Dry” or “My Iron Lung”, while satisfying in the right context, do not stand the test of time as well as their later experiments during the Kid A sessions. These songs use a nice blend of noise along with the band’s traditional composition style, but not to as great an effect as on their next album or in their later works. “Fake Plastic Trees”, “(Nice Dream)”, “Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” do a marginally better job of holding onto a genuinely depressive tone that give them more of an individual identity, but many of the rest blend together into a muddled obscurity. As a pop album, The Bends has its hits and memorable choruses yet is more of a steppingstone for the band’s evolution rather than one of their more successful projects.