These intros are getting a bit redundant nowadays, eh…
Today, we’re looking at gorgeous piece of peak-era Radiohead in Nude, the second single from their 2007 masterpiece In Rainbows. Check the video below:
Originally written in 1997, as part of the OK Computer sessions, it’s unsurprising then that Nude is one of Radiohead’s most melodically-successful, accessibly-written songs of the 00s, a decade widely known to be when the band hit its experimental stride.
I’d even argue that Nude, with its sublimely hypnotic layering, is one of Radiohead’s best tracks, period. Opening on this surreal echo chamber of twisted Thom, the song blossoms almost immediately with these stunning strings and multitracked, manipulated vocals, evoking imagery of tulips inversely flowering in reverse, reversed, you know? This is stripped back at the behest of one of Colin’s most intoxicating basslines, supported in a reserved but perfect manner by Phil’s aesthetically-jazz but rhythmically-reggae drum part. Oh, and this is all within 50 seconds.
At that point, Thom’s famously haunting falsetto drifts into the mix sounding, here, especially delicate. Unlike countless other Radiohead songs where he takes on this almost otherworldly, spectre-like presence, Thom has never sounded so human and vulnerable, whilst simultaneously mature (unlike the raw but juvenile Creep, for example). This is despite the number of subtle but dynamic vocal layering, as his cries circulate the negative space like forgotten ghosts in an unwanted home.
Of course, we’ve also got Ed and Jonny’s intertwining guitar parts; the wandering lead, dancing on the aforementioned bass on pointed toes of melody, and the nigh-on silent acoustic rhythm, lulling in the background. As the song reaches its peak, the strings begin to swell, the purgatory choir rouses, the drums build ever so slightly and Thom’s voice reaches its precious fever pitch. And release.
MORE RADIOHEAD WORDSMITHERY:
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations