Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

6. RadioheadIn Rainbows

How many people end up putting a Radiohead album on their Quietus list? But the shoe fits: they are worth the mental and acoustic space they occupy in our lives as one of the most inventive, intricate and, paradoxically, communicative bands currently at work. But if you had to pick just the one Radiohead album, which would it be?

Every album they’ve released since Pablo Honey – from the second studio offering, The Bends, to this year’s A Moon Shaped Pool – has been a revolver fired into the complacent air of popular music. I love them all. I loved Kid A more than OK Computer, and Amnesiac more than Kid A; each successive album seemed to me an improvement on its predecessor. "They’ve done that, what will they do now?" was always the question. Radiohead never disappointed in this essential matter of pushing themselves. I never thought of even the atmospheric and boneless Amnesiac as a diversion: it was essential to the journey, and I cherished it too.

I think they eventually came to some sort of high creative plateau with the release of the sixth studio album, Hail To The Thief, in 2003. That album, as well as the ones that followed – In Rainbows, The King Of Limbs and A Moon Shaped Pool – all show the twitchy, spooky mode of their mature songwriting, as well as the available depths of their ballads. They were making music for a deeply unsettled time, the post-9/11 era.

My choice of those albums is In Rainbows. I could live without its first two tracks, which are fine but not extraordinary. But the remainder of the album – the eight-song sequence that begins with Nude and ends with Videotape is, to my ears, sheer compositional and performance heaven. These are the terrifying lullabies our age of surveillance deserves.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Afrodeutsche, Neil Finn, Charlotte Church
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