For some unearthly reason, on the warmest day of the year so far, a warmth most unexpected given it snowed less than two weeks ago, I took it upon myself whilst clearing up breakfast to listen to Nick Drake. I’d wandered into Rough Trade East a few weeks ago to watch the marvellous M Ward1 and decided to do the full £50 man and bought, amongst other things, “Pink Moon”. Had the first two records for years, but had been waiting for the right time to buy this one. Anyway, digressing – it was Sunday, warm, tidying, Nick Drake.
Imagine my surprise this morning then, when listening to The New Radiohead Album Which Is About As Exciting As Things Get In Indie Music These Days, I came upon “Desert Island Disk” and thought “Ooooo, that sounds familiar”. Of all the things I thought I’d hear in the new Radiohead album – which frankly, was the usual doom-laden tunes-unladen semi-grind of their output for about, ooh, 15 years – Nick Drake updated ever so slightly for this miserable decade wasn’t one. This is, my long-forgotten friends, a Good Thing. And after listening to the record a few times, I can safely say that I actually want to listen to it more, rather than approaching it with the kind of trepidation you’d have whilst listening to a Sunn O)))/Autechre MegaMix.
There’s still some of the anxiety which has been their stock-in-trade for the past 20-something years, now underlain by something approaching acceptance. Or at least a realisation that one simply doesn’t want to bask in other people’s discomfort as a pleasant way of passing the time. I had enough of Swans and the like in my teenage years, thanks, and I like my middle-aged melancholy with a wry smile these days, like Bill Callahan or Sun Kil Moon. I suspect they – all middle aged, middle class fellas – have just decided that life’s too short to always be glum.
So, best Radiohead album since OK Computer? No fucking idea. Ask me at the end of the year. I’ll do one of those lists. I promise.
A Heart Shaped BoxA Moon Shaped Pool here.
Buy Nick Drake here. Just get the three original albums.
1 Who, upon listening politely to me saying his guitar playing sounded like a train, in a good way, responded with a slightly shocked, and with a raised eyebrow, “Well, thanks man”.