When scuba divers rise too quickly from deep water to the surface, they risk getting the bends, a painful and potentially fatal condition caused by pressure changes in the bloodstream. On their sophomore album, the guys in Radiohead sound like they've had their share of equally excruciating experiences.
Best known for "Creep," 1993's
tender-then-tough hit single in which front man Thom Yorke became a slacker
soulmate by groaning, "I'm a creep/ I'm a weirdo," the English quintet
continues to alternate between lulling and lashing out. "My Iron Lung"
offers a pretty, gentle melody that suddenly bursts into a hailstorm of
harsh guitar riffs, while "Planet Telex" and the title song toss and turn
like the best of those big restless Pearl Jam and U2 arena-size anthems.
On the flip side, "Bulletproof . . . I Wish I Was" is so delicate and weightless,
it seems to be floating, and the stately, baroque "(Nice Dream)" sounds
like one. True, Radiohead's wide-ranging tunes are rarely such a totally
soothing stroke fest, but in the end that doesn't matter. These Bends won't
hurt at all. (Capitol) J.H.