6 a.m.—time to get up. A cup of coffee steams on the ledge beside my desk. I prepare for the day ahead as I wander aimlessly around the corridors of the internet; at first, everything seems mundane. But wait! What’s that there? Is this real life? My heart-rate rises as I realize that Radiohead has spontaneously decided to release their new album 24 hours ahead of schedule.So, I do what any rational-minded individual would do: quickly buy it. I distinctly remember being confused when I heard the first sounds on “Lotus Flower,” and then embarrassed when I heard Thom Yorke sing out on “Little By Little” that “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt”. Cringe. Gross. Do better, Thom.
Favorites: “Bloom,” “Separator,” “Give up the Ghost”
When to Listen: Never.
7. Pablo Honey (1993)
Largely pegged as their worst album, Pablo Honey served as Radiohead’s introduction to the world. Though the record as a whole was very raw, it did give rise to possibly their biggest hit: “Creep.” This is a rock n’ roll album.
Favorites: “Creep,” “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” “Blow Out”
Associated thoughts: Punk shows, dyed hair, if there’s any honey left downstairs.
Amnesiac is said to have been recorded during the same sessions as Kid A, and when you listen to the album, that certainly makes a lot of sense. If people thought Kid A was weird, which at the time was Radiohead’s most electronically-driven, abstract album, Amnesiac would be like that kid in your seventh-grade class who wore capes and always tried to stealthily eat his boogers (even though everyone already knew that was his thing).
Favorites: “Pyramid Song,” “Like Spinning Plates,” “You And Whose Army?,” “Life In A Glasshouse”
When to Listen: While wandering aimlessly around a large department store that appears to have
The Bends was a huge jump in quality from its predecessor, Pablo Honey, and it firmly established Radiohead as an up-and-coming name in the ’90s rock scene.
Favorites: “The Bends,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Bullet Proof…I Wish I Was”
Associated thoughts: A real life town full of rubber plants, spaceship sounds.
Of all the Radiohead albums, this is the one I still can’t quite put a finger on. Still, listening to Hail To The Thief all the way through is almost always a really satisfying experience. It’s eerie, it creeps me out, gives me the heebie jeebies, and I kinda like that.
Favorites: “There There,” “Sail to the Moon,” “Scatterbrain,” “Wolf at the Door”
When to Listen: While driving down a foggy dirt road with no one around.
3. Kid A (2000)
Kid A probably isn’t Radiohead’s third best album. It could easily be slotted in at number one and nobody would bat an eyelash. Sometimes, it’s even my number one, my “desert island” album. Kid A is warm and cold at the same time. It’s coziness draws you in, yet only by the album’s conclusion does the listener realize they have been slowly coaxed out into the cold, icy unknown.
Favorites: “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” “The National Anthem,” “In Limbo”
Where to listen: A poorly-lit, heavily-incensed room.
When I think of In Rainbows, I think of that time I was at a friend’s house raving about that beautiful little riff on “Nude.” When it was over, he had no idea what was so cool about it, and I could only smile. That moment still resonates with me, and looking back at my pimply-faced, high-school freshman self, I can say with confidence that my introduction to Radiohead couldn’t have come at a better time—Am I normal? Who am I? Man, those were the days.
Favorites: “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” “Nude,” “All I Need,” “Reckoner”
When to Listen: 3 a.m., stoned, staring at the ceiling.
Anything anyone could possibly say about OK Computer has already been said — it’s one of the best rock albums ever created. Responsible for classics like “Paranoid Android,” “Karma Police,” and “No Surprises,” OK Computer is captivating from beginning to end. Whenever I take the plunge and listen to OK Computer, I find myself inhabiting a mental space that is as off putting as it is comforting — this album can be transformative, and it certainly has been for me as well as millions of others.
Favorites: “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” “Climbing Up The Walls,” “The Tourist”
Where to listen: Sitting on a subway alongside commuting New Yorkers that are all absorbed in their phones, newspapers, etc.
Written by Noveen Bajpai