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 Post subject: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2016, 9:37 am 
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Spiro had a great idea after posting his chart in the 'Your Favourite Albums' thread, that we should, over the course of 100 days, listen to 1 album a day from eachother's chart (from top to bottom), and share feedback with eachother in this thread.

I thought this was a PRETTY COOL idea so I agreed. Here are the charts in question

Topsummoner's Chart (Day 43 Edit)
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Day 1 Chart:
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I've recently become obsessed with Swans - To Be Kind, and since Spiro recieved Ayreon - The Human Equation poorly, I decided to swap the other album by Ayreon on this chart, The Universal Migrator, out for To Be Kind. And to avoid having to take in two massive Swans albums back to back, I moved the recently deceased Leonard Cohen's Songs Of Love And Hate into the vacant spot and put To Be Kind where it used to be.

Here's what the chart looked like at the start.
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Spirographed's Chart
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Coming up next...
Day 1
Tool's Lateralus and Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon

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Last edited by Topsummoner on November 11th, 2016, 3:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2016, 10:14 am 
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Day 1:
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Fantastic choice for a #1, Top. It has been one of my fav's since early Middle School. I'd heard a lot about it from my Uncle's talking about it. Picked it up at the local record store. The rest is history.

Pros:
- Where to start? Everything.
- The songwriting uses musical space like no other band did in that era.
- Gilmour compliments his own guitar parts so well, that it sounds like another guitarist was writing with him.
- Nobody that were already established in their musical career used analog synth in their music. Floyd pioneered that...and they didn't over use it.
- The album is so cohesive, front to back.
- Dohs additional vocalists doh. TGGItS, especially.
- Use of lap steel guitar and/or a slide ALWAYS makes me smile (unless country).

Cons:
- I really wish I could have been there to listen to this album in the context of that era.
- I actually (contrary to very popular belief) think the iconic album art is kinda lame.

Overall Score:
10/10

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2016, 11:22 am 
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Day 1
Tool - Lateralus


This isn't my first time at the rodeo with Tool. They didn't really seem like my thing back then, but I've been through some heavier stuff since last I tried them, like the discography of Swans. So we'll see how it goes this time.

Pros:
- This album has an inherent WEIGHT to it. It just feels heavy and overbearing and demands attention.
- The technical skill of the musicians is obviously quite high, particularly the drums pounding away through almost the entire running time.
- The aggression of the album makes the technical playing feel more genuine instead of just wanky like some Dream Theater albums for example.
- The hidden track

Cons:
- Lots of the album sounds really similar. It felt for a while like it was just alternating between the HEAVY AND FAST stuff and the more subdued atmospheric guitar parts.
- Due to the above I started losing interest around halfway through and really started to feel the running time. If it wasn't for the last few tracks being among the best (Reflection called my attention back in particular), the entire second half might have just blended together for me.

Highlight: Reflection

Overall Score:
6.5/10

Some notes on the rating system I'm going to use:
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Number grades are difficult for me to assign. How I feel about an album is easier to express in words most of the time. And rating systems as are usually used by most critics I find are inflated far too much. So if my scores appear low to you, I'd like you to keep in mind the following descriptions of each number grade.

10 - Personal Favourite
9 - Flawless
8 - Exceptional
7 - Great
6 - Good
5 - Worthwhile
4 - Mediocre
3 - Meh
2 - Bad
1 - Aggressively Terrible


Coming up next...
Day 2
Loud Harp's Asaph and Sufjan Steven's The Age of Adz

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Last edited by Topsummoner on September 27th, 2016, 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2016, 10:13 pm 
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I find this to be a neat idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 7:55 am 
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Thanks Jaron! As far as I'm concerned, other people are free to follow along and comment.

Day 2

Loud Harp - Asaph


Don't know anything about this band or album going in except for your comment about it being the "most pleasant and peaceful" album you've heard, so I expect COMFY.

Pros:
- COMFY. Great travel music, probably great for relaxing too.
- The instruments are all very pleasant and palatable.
- Neat ethereal atmosphere running through the whole album.

Cons:
- From what I can gather, most of the lyrics detail a personal conversation with God. For a nonbeliever this makes it hard to be interested in the message, as opposed to something like Seven Swans where it's easier to connect with the emotion attached to the beliefs.
- Partially due to the above, I found I enjoyed the album the most when the vocals stepped back and let the music speak for itself. I found myself wishing there were more of these moments.
- I found myself wishing the crescendos of the album had higher peaks. Many of the songs felt like they were building up to some payoff that never came.

Highlight: (121) Ascent

It's good it's just... not something I see myself coming back to unfortunately.

Overall Score:
5/10

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 11:07 am 
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Day 2:
Sufjan Steven - The Age of Adz


In Discord, I've heard you talk about this dude more than anyone else, when it comes to music. The anticipation of this listen had been building for quite some time. I hadn't listened to a single note of Sufjan's until listening to an entire album, today. Here are my takeaways:

Pros:
- The opening track was delightful and
- The contrast of the second track (and really the entire album) was unexpected and weird in a good way, which brings me to my next pro...
- Weirdness. Everything I listen to has got to have a little slice of weird somewhere in the mix and this album has just that, without taking away from the exceptional songwriting.
- It is a very different approach to an electronic album. The lead lines were outside of the box, but mixing synth with strings and horns gave it a timeless feel (at one point the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange came to mind).
- I liked Sufjan's vocals. They were pleasant for the most part, when it was just him singing...

Cons:
- The vocals were too dramatic (and were even at times obnoxious), for my liking, during the down tempo songs or parts within songs. Specifically in "Now That I'm Older", and especially the additional vocalists. I was 50/50 on liking/disliking the additional vocalists.
- Musical themes were often repeated: rhythmic and melodic patterns in arpeggiators, vocal accents, string/horn swells and accents, etc.
- I guess, in all, I didn't quite understand what he was trying to accomplish within the context of the album until:

Highlight:
"Impossible Soul". Man. I really dug the final song, and about 3/4 of the way through it, the rest of the album clicked into comprehension in my mind. I really, really love long songs. Long songs that have a bunch of different feels. Long songs that repeat a riff or melody over and over. Long songs, man. Clocking in at 25 and 1/2 minutes, this song had time to repeat melodies (if you have a good one, why only sing/play it a couple times?) and have different feels throughout. I really enjoyed how the song morphed from feel to feel and was pleasantly surprised with the auto-tuned vocal section. Having ended on such a great note, I will definitely listen to this album again, with the final track in mind.

Overall Score: 7

Coming up next...
Day 3
OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Weezer's Pinkerton

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 1:46 pm 
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I will be reading and probably commenting on the few albums Im familiar with, thanks guys.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 4:37 pm 
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I just went a bit down the Sufjan Stevens rabbit hole. Moreso Illinois than this one though. Some pretty cool stuff. Ill be interested to see your take when you get there Spiro, doesn't look like it's too far down the list.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 7:44 pm 
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Yeah, I'm pretty excited to give his other albums a spin. This is fun! I love new music.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 24th, 2016, 5:05 pm 
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Day 3:
Weezer - Pinkerton


My 1st Weezer album was their 1st. I was in 5th grade. 2 years later, their sophomore release, Pinkerton came out. Top, I haven't listened to this album in a *long* time...but I remember it well.

Pros:
- It's, hands down, the most punk rock of all the Weezer records, musically and lyrically.
- The intentionally lo-fi quality is fantastic. The high-gain guitars, the clipped kick drum and vocals. Love me some blown out kick drum, in a pop setting.
- As lo-fi and punk as it is, it's still a pop album! Catchy hooks, riffs and choruses.
- This album is actually a Weezer album without guitar solos 100% mimicking the vocal melody.

Cons:
- The songs aren't as catchy as many other Weezer albums.
- I have always felt that the final track is sorta out of place.

Overall Score: 8

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Last edited by Spirographed on September 25th, 2016, 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 25th, 2016, 10:31 am 
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Sorry about the delay, had a particularly busy day yesterday.

Day 3

OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below


Given the nature of the double album being split down the middle between Big Boi and Andre 3000, I figure I'll tackle these two's strengths and weaknesses separately, before assigning a combined score at the end.

Speakerboxxx

Pros:
- The big band-inspired elements, particularly the brass instruments on tracks like Bowtie and The Rooster.
- The production is very crisp. Most everything is just pleasant sounding making the album easily palatable.
- The backup vocalists were all great.

Cons:
- "Uh. Yeah."
- The interludes just feel like padding and a waste of time. They can be cute the first time but if I ever listen to this again I would probably skip them, and I basically never skip tracks.
- The tracks that are just a loop with rapping on top and a repeated hook, like Tomb of the Boom. Found it hard to care about these ones.
- For so many hook-based tracks, many of them just weren't catchy.

Highlight: The Rooster

Score: 6/10

The Love Below

Pros:
- Holy. I knew almost as soon as I turned it on I was going to like it more. The piano and jazzy guitar pulled me in right away.
- "Aw, thanks God, I knew you'd understand." This album's funny.
- Lots of interesting instrumentation. The guitars, synths, piano, organs, brass...
- Catchy af!
- Pretty much all the pros I gave Speakerboxxx apply here.
- Lots of variety.

Cons:
- Where Are My Panties?
- Roses was a tad tasteless lyrically.

Highlight: Hey Ya!

Score: 8.5/10

Overall

This reminds me of Death Grips' The Powers That B, in that the two discs of an album differ significantly in style, and one so clearly eclipses the other in quality. I honestly don't think I'll listen to Speakerboxxx again outside of a few tracks, but The Love Below is a serious contender to make the next iteration of my chart.

Overall Score: 7/10

Coming up next...
Day 4
Meshuggah's Catch Thirty-Three and Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 25th, 2016, 5:05 pm 
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Day 4:
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

The name of this band sounded extremely familiar. I'm positive I've heard of them somewhere throughout the years, but haven't actually heard them.

Pros:
- The lyrics are fantastic. The nature of the album almost forces you to take in the lyrics, and they do not disappoint when you do take them in. They straddle the line of poetry and storytelling perfectly.
- The variety of instruments used is great, and they aren't over used. A lot of the songs are stripped down for the most part, but the swells of odd instrumentation are very welcome when they arrive.
- The songwriting is on point and a very pleasent journey. I listened to a lot of college radio, and therefore Indie music for a couple years, but could never get into full albums of the genre. This album kept me interested front to back.
- The vocals had a gritty edge. A lot of the time, this sort of music is accompanied by very consistently pretty vocals, and this album had a grit to it.
- A lot of it had an Irish Folk feel to it, which I have always dug.

Cons:
- The rhythms throughout the album were pretty much the same. Same strumming patterns, same drum hits, etc.
- Seemed like a pretty short playtime. Was kind of left wanting more at the end.
- There wasn't a whole lot of dynamics.


Highlight:
The story throughout.

Overall Score: 7

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 26th, 2016, 7:14 am 
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Spirographed wrote:
Day 4:
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea


The name of this band sounded extremely familiar. I'm positive I've heard of them somewhere throughout the years, but haven't actually heard them.


This is indie darling of the 90's, seemingly on every list of the top albums of the decade, so I'm sure you've seen in come up in those type of situations. I gave it a listen once, and had similar impressions as you did. A nice album, but not quite as deserving of the hype that it gets. Maybe it takes multiple listens though.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 26th, 2016, 7:29 am 
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Applequest wrote:
Spirographed wrote:
Day 4:
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea


The name of this band sounded extremely familiar. I'm positive I've heard of them somewhere throughout the years, but haven't actually heard them.


This is indie darling of the 90's, seemingly on every list of the top albums of the decade, so I'm sure you've seen in come up in those type of situations. I gave it a listen once, and had similar impressions as you did. A nice album, but not quite as deserving of the hype that it gets. Maybe it takes multiple listens though.

Yeah, I'll keep it in my library and listen again at some point. I'm an album listener (I don't make playlists or hop around), and this one is set up for a whole run-through. That's the type of albums that I spin on the regular, so we'll see if it grows on my enough for me to venture further into their discography.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 26th, 2016, 11:28 am 
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Once I get back from my trip I'll be back into alignment. But anyways

Day 4
Meshuggah - Catch Thirty-Three


Pros:
- The clean guitar and harmonics in a handful of spots were very appealing.
- I like cohesiveness in albums, where everything sounds as part of a greater whole.

Cons:
- The timbre of the rhythm guitar and bass was unpleasant, sometimes outright annoying since it was a pretty prominent feature of the music.
- The uh... throat screaming metal vocals were a turn off too. I'm okay with that in small doses but, this wasn't a small dose.
- Kind of homogenous for most of the run.
- The "micro-stops" were just annoying and took me out of the music.

Highlight: In Death - Is Life, the last four minutes of Sum

Ehh... sorry, this just isn't for me.

Overall Score: 3.5/10

Coming up next...
Day 5
The Mars Volta's Frances The Mute and Death Grips Niggas on the Moon

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Last edited by Topsummoner on September 27th, 2016, 10:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 26th, 2016, 2:21 pm 
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Day 5:
Death Grips - Niggas on the Moon


"...was released as a free digital download on June 8, 2014. The first disc's instrumentation was performed entirely on a Roland V-Drum kit by drummer Zach Hill and features chopped vocal samples of Icelandic singer-songwriter, Björk, on every track." This, from Wikipedia, intrigued me. I know Zach's work with Team Sleep and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (both of which are in my list) and was interested in what he did with an all electronic kit.

Pros:
- The music is nutty. Rhythmically spastic drumming/samples that range from DnB to free jazz.
- There were moments of...clarity, I guess I'll call them, that were absolutely great. They come and go very fast, however, without much time to hold onto them.
- There were times the vocals felt like Hip Hop or spoken word. I really enjoyed these moments.
- Zach Hill's drumming was off the chain. I mean, really. As a drummer, I really enjoyed what he had to offer on every single track. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for the recording process.

Cons:
- The vocal and music styles change so often and fast, that it's hard to reflect on anything that has happened as you are listening to it.
- The lyrics were seemingly vulgar, and without good reason. I'm no prude. A couple albums on my list do just that, but they are nostalgic for me.
- 80% of the time I did not enjoy the vocals. They were just not my thing. At times it sounded almost like he was a rapper/reggae/dub artist from the U.K. (ala Asian Dub Foundation) and that is just not something [stylistically] that I have ever been able to enjoy.
- I do not like Bjork, therefore music samples of Bjork, exclusively, were not my thing.
- At one point I thought, this is what people who have ADD feel like when they don't take their meds.

Highlight:
"Billy Not Really" was actually an all-around pretty cool track.

Overall Score: 5.5

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 6:25 am 
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Applequest wrote:
A nice album, but not quite as deserving of the hype that it gets. Maybe it takes multiple listens though.


It absolutely does, I HATED it my first time, was impartial for the next few, but somewhere along the way it really CLICKED HARD. I find I like it a little more each time I revisit it, and my chart has reflected that, as it climbed from the mass to second tier, then to 8th, 6th, and now 4th.

I think there's something incredibly beautiful in both its simplicity and its ugliness, and I think it's all sold by the sincerity you can hear in Jeff Mangum's voice.

In short, "the soft silly music is meaningful, magical" ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 8:32 am 
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Yeah, man. Good point there was definite sincerity in his voice.

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 11:45 pm 
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Day 5
The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute


I've listened to both this and De-loused In The Comatorium before, and for both of them I had a peculiar experience where I knew I enjoyed the ride but could hardly retain any of what I had heard. This persisted through multiple listens.
I've since branched out and expanded on the music I listen to so I hope I'll have an easier time retaining it this time around.

Pros:
- Lots of interesting and worldly instrumentation and sounds. Special shoutout to that one section in L'Via L'Viaquez that sorta sounds like... cantina music I guess? Not really sure how to describe it otherwise
- WHOOOOOO DOOOOO YOUUUU.... TRUUUUUUUUUUUST???
- This album is remarkable in its technical undertaking and conceptual ambition at the very least.
- Cassandra Gemini is a total monster that despite its half-hour running time ends just as abruptly as it began. I would probably need to listen to it on repeat for a day to really comprehend it.

Cons:
- This album almost feels... above me, if that makes sense. I don't feel knowledgeable enough to get the most out of it. That probably says more about me than the music, but it does impact my enjoyment of the album which is really what I'm rating.
- Part of this feeling has to do with the use of foreign languages throughout. I'm all for music speaking for itself, but when there are vocals it's important to me that I can connect to what they're getting across.

Highlight: Cassandra Gemini's second movement ("Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream" I think.)

It's extremely difficult for me to write about this album. I feel totally defeated by it. I know that I liked it but it's quite difficult to put into words WHY. I... definitely need a few more runs at it somewhere down the line.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Coming up next...
Day 6
Radiohead's Hail To The Thief and Closure In Moscow's Pink Lemonade

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 Post subject: Re: Top vs Spiro - 100 Album Challenge
PostPosted: September 28th, 2016, 11:12 am 
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Day 6
Radiohead - Hail To The Thief


As just a cursory glance at my chart would suggest, I am very familiar with the music of Radiohead. However there are three LPs by them that, despite repeated listenings, I have yet to form strong opinions on.
These are The King of Limbs, A Moon Shaped Pool, and Hail To The Thief.
I've eliminated distractions and turned my headphones up. It's time to decide for certain just how I feel about HTTT.

Pros:
- The usual stellar Radiohead production is in play. The album is a carefully crafted auditory experience.
- There are a few really good tracks on here. "2+2=5" starts the album out strong, "Go To Sleep"'s acoustic guitar is immediately striking, feeling like a refinement of Pablo Honey.
- The darkness of "We Suck Young Blood" is really the high point for me. One of my absolute favourite Radiohead tracks is Amnesiac's "Life In A Glasshouse", and this track comes the closest to replicating it.

Cons:
- This album has a difficult time because of the company it keeps, much like Pink Floyd's The Division Bell. If it was the only Radiohead album that existed, most fans would probably think it's pretty good, even great! But as it stands it feels like a retread of OK Computer and Amnesiac, and hardly ever manages to be as good as them.
- It sounds like Radiohead trying to be Radiohead instead of thinking forward like they usually do. It sounds more like a Muse album than any of their other work. The bite of OKC is missing, and the novelty of Kid A/Amnesiac is missing, and it's not as catchy as The Bends/In Rainbows.
- It seems silly to detract from this album for the reasons of it 'not being their other albums', but I just wish I was listening to a different Radiohead album the whole time. I can't help it.
- Paradoxically it's the longest Radiohead album, but feels like it has the least to say.

Highlight: We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up)

It's good but I still feel about as apathetic about it as before. That's all I've really got to say on the matter.

Overall Score: 6.5/10

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