Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Favorite Track: Olympik Least Favorite Track: Sail On
Everyone loves to hate on Pitchfork, they sound like that one guy at a Starbucks trying to write super “realized” poetry while simultaneously talking about the latest Lil Uzi Vert album. Usually about topics like “music is dying” or something along the lines of that, but I’ve always agreed with Pitchfork on one thing; The circle jerk of Radiohead. I occasionally divulge a bit more than others, my favorite album is King of Limbs, Amnesiac is better than Kid A, and if you like “Creep” or “High and Dry” you’re clearly stupid. In all seriousness, I love Radiohead, I love practically everything they release and everything they produce, so when Ed O’ Brien announced his own solo album, I was obviously enthusiastic. Ed is the perfect band member, never flashy and no ego to worry about, all he cares about is forming the atmosphere that gives Radiohead their signature sound and texture. On his debut album, Earth, we see him emerge from the shadow, wielding an array of expansive sounds. Inspired by Brazilian culture, there’s a more uplifting feel here than the majority of Radiohead’s recent output, the aura exhibited on the album makes it much warmer and relaxing. The guitars are clean, but experimental, and tend to compliment Ed’s softer and deeper tones through the album. He does a great job flexing his vocal range, whether it’s the rock vocals on “Shangri-La”, or the crooning on “Mass”. We also see Radiohead’s signature lyricism on cuts like “Banksters”, but Ed gives us his own stories on other tracks like “Long Time Coming” and “Cloak of the Night”. The percussion and synths are well executed, but usually are only minimal additions to these guitar-heavy tracks. The tracks meld so well together, they are unique enough to be separated but have overarching themes and ambiance that bring the album together. After OK Computer, it was reported that Ed wanted to return to a pure rock album, akin to The Bends, and while Radiohead went a completely separate route with Kid A, his ideas for a softer rock album never left him. His sonic ambitions on other albums come full circle too, every track is layered and textured well, showing Ed’s true talent and aspirations.