1. Planet Telex
2. The Bends
3. High And Dry
4. Fake Plastic Trees
6. (Nice Dream)
8. My Iron Lung
9. Bulletproof… I Wish I Was
10. Black Star
12. Street Spirit
Radiohead‘s second album “The Bends” is a major step forward. Whereas “Pablo Honey” was a strong solid debut album, “The Bends” is a true work of art that is among the top albums of 1995. With their alternative approach on rock with experimental influences they really found their way. Sensitive and massive at the same time.
The album starts off with the epic Planet Telex which immediately sets the mood. With industrial and experimental outlets this song is typical for the way Radiohead’s sound is evolving.
Then the title track The Bends. One of the more mainstream songs on the album, without really being mainstream. It is absolutely an alternative song but it is still catchy and it is a great example of a Radiohead song that shifts focus between vocals and instrumentals perfectly. The acoustic version of this song is great too.
Next is the splendid High And Dry. It’s been covered many times, and when you listen to it, you’ll understand why. The acoustic guitar/percussion intro leads the way for Thom Yorke’s amazing vocals. The totality of this will slowly breathe life into the song and Radiohead really performs it. Fit for radio, without displeasing the fans of the alternative.
Fake Plastic Trees is the ultimate highlight of the album. With phenomenal vocals, Thom Yorke brings this sensitive song to a remarkably high level. The acoustic guitar and arrangements suit the song perfectly and support the vocals. The great lyrics really sound perfect the way they are sung and apart from all that, this is just a very beautiful song.
The album continues with Bones which is actually one of my least favorite songs on the album. It’s too U2-ish for my liking. It is by no standards a bad song, but it is not typically Radiohead in my opinion.
(Nice Dream) starts with a cute acoustic intro but it moves very slowly. The lyrics aren’t Radiohead’s best and the song lacks a little. The song doesn’t really hit the spot.
Radiohead continues strong with Just. A very cleverly composed song which reminds me of Canadian contemporaries Our Lady Peace, though Radiohead might make it sound more alternative and they play it to perfection.
My Iron Lung has an intro that reminds me of the Beatles, just edited. The song carries on nicely and musically it reminds me a lot of their own breakthrough single Creep. Soundwise it’s more “Pablo Honey” than “The Bends” in my opinion.
We then reach another highlight with Bulletproof. This very experimental song shows Radiohead’s great quality of creating an atmosphere for a song that can draw you in completely.
Then Black Star, which is a great song, but it’s by no means Radiohead’s best work. It is one of my favorite Radiohead songs to sing along to, and typical for “The Bends” era, but it isn’t really anything new.
Sulk is very alternative and very melodic. Many future bands will consciously or subconsciously be inspired by Radiohead songs like Sulk. Radiohead is really setting a trend here. As they do with other songs, but Sulk is a good example.
The album ends with Street Spirit. A haunting song, once again showing how good Radiohead is in creating an atmosphere around the song. And listen to the song a few times and you’ll find that with a very subtle use of arrangements and instrumentals they work to a climax perfectly for ending an album.
On “The Bends” we hear Radiohead at its full potential. Supreme vocal lines with perfect instrumentals and a band that’s not afraid to experiment. They explored their ability to create the perfect atmosphere for a song to excell even more than before and created an album that has 12 strong songs but also stands as a whole. In time this will be classic rock.