The Bends (album) by Radiohead
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The best album by Radiohead is OK Computer which is ranked number 1 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 107,911.
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The Bends track list
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The Bends rankings
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The Bends ratings
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Showing latest 5 ratings for this album. | Show all 3,402 ratings for this album.
|Rating||Date updated||Member||Album ratings||Avg. album rating|
|5 hours ago||MasterOfPuppets||283||81/100|
|8 hours ago||seol366||19||91/100|
|23 hours ago||Szyfman||206||74/100|
|37 hours ago||mjp11||414||80/100|
|45 hours ago||stephenwoodsfigo||10||90/100|
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This album is rated in the top 1% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a mean average rating of 86.0/100. The trimmed mean (excluding outliers) is 87.4/100. The standard deviation for this album is 15.1.
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Radiohead were an entirely different beast in 1995. Long before they were gray-bearded and critically adored, they were fresh off the heels of an introductory effort that was met with a lukewarm reception, noted only for its lead single to which the last fleeting grunge aficionados clung to with vigor. Pablo Honey has now gone on to gather a cult following more complimentary retrospective reviews, but what they would produce next would shape the trajectory of their careers for years to come. The Bends is an easily discernible maturation for the group as the songwriting becomes more poignant and the musicianship undergoes a colossal leap forward. It was in the finest details of The Bends where the band had carved out their sound and, more importantly, their confidence.
While examining the title track, The Bends, the two-headed monster of guitar fury is let loose as Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien flourish their talents all throughout a track named after a sensation caused by gas-infused bubbles in the blood. However, the concepts communicated in the song deal with fair-weather friends riding the band's coattails into stardom and knowing who the true confidants are. The conclusion is drawn by Thom Yorke himself who snarls, "We don't have any real friends". Fourth track Fake Plastic Trees goes down as an early era anthem of rejection for the band, serving as a wiser, more contemplative Creep evolution. Working both as a blistering assessment of consumerism in modern society and as Yorke's own disillusion towards the porcelain nature of his experiences of human interaction, particularly those with the opposite sex. The song delicately unfolds before crashing thunderously with guitar hits subbing for lightning. The track softly recoils as Yorke sorrowfully ponders, "If I could be who you wanted, all the time". This was, for lack of a better term, a "grown up" piece for the band and it was also the moment of discovery for Yorke's own lyrical voice. Closing cut Street Spirit (Fade Out) sculpts out a place alongside other Radiohead classics with an emotional weight not yet produced by the group. Commencing with a guitar hook that could inspire ominous dread within Satan himself, the track explores nihilistic motifs and the chilling-certainty of life's short duration. Yorke has even claimed that "it hurts like hell to play" and likened it to "staring the Devil in the eyes". The backing vocal harmony during the second half beseeches images of wandering souls lost in transit as the frontman begs those who listen to "immerse your soul in love". Street Spirit (Fade Out) serves as a proper creative zenith for the band, acting almost as a baptism into a higher consciousness of musical inspiration for the English quintet.
In May of 1997, Radiohead would go on to release the seminal OK Computer and the rest, as they say, is history. For all of OK Computer's ingenuity and attention to detail, the seeds for the album were really sown two years earlier on The Bends. The 1995 effort often draws the short straw when most recall Radiohead's most polished discography entries. It's easy to overlook the stratospheric ascent in dynamism between the band's first and second LPs. The Bends enjoyed a mostly cordial reception by critics but few could be astute enough to cite the album as the birthing of a modern music legend. The pyramid of what we now know as Radiohead was still being built, and the blocks of stone at the foundation are just as important as the ones that sit atop them.
"Faith, you're driving me away,
You do it every day,
You don't mean it, but it hurts like hell,
My brain says I'm receiving pain,
A lack of oxygen,
From my life support, my iron lung."
-My Iron Lung
1. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
2. Fake Plastic Trees
3. (Nice Dream)
Fav. Tracks: Planet Telex, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just, Street Spirit (Fade Out).
I remember when that album came out... Everybody though it was a good album, but nothing special about it. Then they released a masterpiece in Ok Computer and everybody went crazy over Radiohead, now magically hearing The Bends in a brand new way. But I'm sorry, The Bends is the same "OK record - nothing special" it was back then. Just because they did OK Computer doesn't make The Bends a better album... Sure right this is the "20th best album ever"... it's better than Rubber Soul, Blonde on Blonde, Let it Bleed, Automatic for the people, Ten... yeah sure... I wish people were more realistic.
I will preface this by saying that I think this album is good.
...however, I think a lot of people on this site see this album through the scope of Radiohead's legacy, sort of like rose-colored lenses. This album has some fat on it, and a lot of these songs and their sounds are huge products of their time and environment. I've listened to it multiple times and it very much feels like Radiohead before they discovered fire. There are elements of grunge, brit-pop, and 90s soft rock on here, and pretty much every moment of that is hard to distinguish from any of the music that came out in the mid-90s. That's not the level of creativity or inspiration that has gotten Radiohead the #2 spot on this site.
High and Dry, Bones, (Nice Dream), My Iron Lung, and Bulletproof...I Wish I Was are all songs that feel more uninspired than most of the Radiohead I've listened to. Though My Iron Lung is a good metaphor for the band's relationship with Creep, the only good thing that these songs have going for them is an interesting chord progression, or, at least not as generic nor as predictable as the 90s rock of the time. Otherwise, they'd be completely lost within the shuffle of their time.
Now, onto the good stuff. I can say with great confidence that I didn't like Fake Plastic Trees at all before really paying attention to it this time. I think it deserves to be in the top 5 or so of best written songs by Radiohead. Planet Telex has a great spacey atmosphere that helps to lay the groundwork for an album that would be much different than the band's debut. Sulk and Black Star are good songs dealing with the overarching theme of depression and disillusionment. And then Street Spirit closes the album so well that one could've accidentally left music playing after Fake Plastic Trees and ate dinner before returning to the album to hear its ending before gushing about how perfect the album is.
I've been trepidatious when thinking about adding my 2 cents on this album, but I figured I'd be honest. It isn't an amazing album, it's not ahead of its time, and it doesn't deserve #20 for greatest albums of all time. It is, however, a pretty solid album with good chord progressions, good-to-great songwriting, and is more cohesive when its themes deal with depression than Nevermind. Though it is nowhere near as influential as that album, so we should all acknowledge that and stop playing it off as it is. If it didn't have that fat to it, it'd be much better.
Create some parity between this and the truly great and influential Radiohead albums. You'll feel better for being honest and you'll be able to appreciate those better albums even more!
Best Tracks: Street Spirit, Fake Plastic Trees, Planet Telex, Just, Black Star
Fantastic album, I think OK Computer and Kid A are better but it is a classic.
great alternative rock album but ranking it 20th overall is a joke.
Best album by radiohead...
One of the best albums of the 90s. Very introspective and sparked Radiohead's career.