on April 26, 2004
I'm probably one of the most unorthodox Radiohead fans. Instead of starting with "OK Computer" as my first Radiohead album, I started with "Kid A". At first I didn't like it too much, but after listening to it over and over, it began to grow on me and I eventually loved Radiohead. So I proceeded to buy OKC and "The Bends", which I really enjoyed. Then "Amnesiac" came out, so I bought that and I thought it was okay, but not up to par with "Kid A". Then, I bought the live EP, which held me over until the next album "Hail To The Thief", which is also a good album (not great, though). So that brings me to this album. This was the last Radiohead album I bought, and I have to say, it's not that bad considering all of the bad reviews I've read of it. So anyway...on to the album.
First off, you can definitely tell it was made during the late grunge era, since most of the songs are loud and self indulgent. However, the way that Radiohead performs these songs makes them a whole lot better. After this album and before The Bends, Radiohead was known as the Creep Band, but Creep isn't the only good song on here. In fact, all of the songs on here are pretty darn good if you don't start into comparisons with their other albums. My personal favorites are "Stop Whispering" and "Thinking About You" because they're the most emotional songs. But the rest of them are also really good, especially "You", "Anyone Can Play Guitar", "Vegetable", and "Blow Out". The only song I don't really like is "Ripcord" but it's still okay. Also, I'm not surprised that "Prove Yourself" is no longer played by the band, because you can imagine how many teens would be singing the lines "I'm better off dead" at their concerts, turning it into a cheesy suicide song when it's a serious song.
Overall, if you're a new Radiohead fan, you should probably start here, or with The Bends, or with OK Computer, in order to be introduced to their style. Then, you should purchase "Kid A", "Amnesiac", and "Hail To The Thief", since they're much less guitar driven and more experimental and progressive.
on June 9, 2004
...they sounded like every other guitar rock band on the planet, and if there's anything Radiohead usually aren't, it's generic.
Alas, Radiohead's debut has not aged well at all in any way. Momentary flashes of the group's later brilliance pop up occasionally (most notably in the horrendously-overplayed (yet still high quality) "Creep" and the wonderful "Anyone Can Play Guitar"), but for the most part, it's a group trying to find its voice and failing miserably, as most of this album will be forgotten as soon as you're done listening to it.
Some would say that this album was ahead of its time when it came out. No it wasn't. Radiohead sounded like every other post-grunge outfit on the radio at that time. It can't really be "ahead of its time" if its sound can be classified by the time period it was released in.
Some would also say that you shouldn't come down so harshly on this album for being such an early release by the band, and this may be true. However, just going by the differences between Pablo Honey and The Bends (their second album), the jump in quality between the two is staggering. Even the difference in quality between Pablo Honey and the My Iron Lung EP (released the year after Pablo Honey) is pretty noticeable.
Overall, what we're left with are the very sketchy beginnings of one of the greatest bands in rock and roll. Some of you Radiohead fans might be tempted to buy it just to make your collection complete. Don't. You'll probably only listen to this album once and put it away on a shelf somewhere. Your money would be much better spent elsewhere. Also, those of you thinking about buying Pablo Honey as an intro to the group should think again. The Bends makes a much better introduction to the group's sound.
on March 9, 2004
Sometimes its hard to extract an album from a whole catalogue of work, difficult to contextualize something that led to so much more. But let's try.
Way back when, a group called 'On a Friday' became a regular fixture on the local Oxfordshire band-scene before changing name and releasing Drill EP in 1992. We (some friends and I) met them at the Cambridge Junction that year and did a fanzine interview. Small venue, small audience, but there was a growing rumour in certain scenes that this one song, Creep, had serious potential. People also talked in excited tones about Lurgee, apparently the band's favourite track, and Stop Whispering, which later propelled them into the Japanese market.
The truth is that this is a record firmly rooted in the indie scene of the late 80's/early 90's, when the kids were still dorks and wore band t-shirts and converse all-stars before they were cool. we all had stupid hair and jumped up and down, stinging our eyes with our sweaty curtain-like hairdos (see the music video for the Charlatans The Only One I Know), and all because our new hero was Kurt Cobain, rest his soul. The punky energy that Radiohead had was a great live experience, but it wasn't until a year or more later, when they returned with the My Iron Lung EP that we started to notice that there was more to it, a mellow side to the rabid intensity of songs like Pop is Dead. Seeing the band once more a few months later at the end of the tour for The Bends it was like seeing the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis. The audience was twice the size and the jumping up and down had morphed almost into a group sway. Nothing of the genius of a Fake Plastic Trees, will be found in Pablo Honey.
And that sums up Pablo Honey, it is a great record for jumping up and down to and for thinking fondly on the days before Radiohead were everyone's favourite band, but it is no masterpiece, that was probably OK Computer, or maybe Hail to the Thief, which is a somewhat more intricate construction. You might see if you can find a record by a band called Adorable (especially a song called Sunshine Smile) and check out what the contemporaries were doing at the same time.
And as for suggesting this is simple 'Brit-rock' fair is a little misleading - Radiohead were too early for that and never got caught up in the Oasis-era revival of guitar-driven music. It is probably to Radiohead's eternal credit that they have always sat outside definition or easily marked boundaries and this record set the trend.
on January 11, 2004
Regardless of where it stands in relation to Radiohead's later work, Pablo Honey doesn't stand up that well on its own. It sounds kinda... amateurish. Which is completely expected. This is definitely a band that matured as it went along, that learned and grew and eventually made some of the best music of the past decade. The problem isn't that Pablo Honey is simple and uncomplicated and unexperimental- cue the Bends- but that its just not very good.
Part of this is the fault of their label. They were treated as late-comers to the grunge scene, and the aimless guitar in some of the songs and the lackluster production work point to a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the producers. Large parts of this album are unfortunately forgettable.
The record has some real standout moments, though. "You" has a kickass opening guitar line and is just a very cool song throughout. "Creep" is a great song in its own right, but it is probably hurt the most due to its huge overexposure (I STILL hear it on the radio sometimes). Among the rest of the tracks, most prove to be mediocre, although I really like Lurgee (a very sweet melody) and Blow Out. Anyone Can Play Guitar has always struck me as annoying, although it has one of the coolest intros of any Radiohead song.
This album isn't considered weak because RH fans are snobs- great pop albums like the Bends are amazing. Pablo Honey isn't a great pop album, though. It has some brief indications of their future greatness, but on the whole its endearing but subpar.
on January 7, 2004
Ten years later, it's so hard to believe that this is Radiohead. This CD is more like classic rock, something you don't expect Radiohead to make. In Pablo Honey, Radiohead have not still thrived enough to achieve their unique style. Comparing to other rock CDs (by other bands), this album is quite good. But if you compare this album with RADIOHEAD's later albums, this one is not as good as they are. But it is necessary to listen to it in order to understand and enjoy Radiohead more. When they made Pablo Honey, you wouldn't expect them to be one of the best alternative bands in the world. It's quite amusing to listen to Pablo Honey in order to appreciate Radiohead's growth as a music band.
i think Creep is overrated. Even though its lyrics exemplify incongruity, rejection, and self-mockery, Creep is the one song that everyone remembers from this album. Which does not do justice to the rest of the tracks. There is Anyone Can Play Guitar, You, and other great songs that you have to remember.
You can see traces of similarity to Pablo Honey in The Bends. But starting with OK Computer, each Radiohead's album has it's own style. Each makes a particular entirety. And that's what is fantastic about Radiohead: they're never the same.
What is similar though is Tom Yorke's voice. But that's also in its infancy in Pablo Honey! Just compare it to Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box, or We Suck Young Blood... and you'll see how different he sounds.
The best thing about Pablo Honey is that it's the beginning: when we all started.
on December 3, 2003
...simply because it's a Radiohead album. Now, while it is Radiohead's debut, irony rears its head, as Pablo Honey was produced as a Brit-Rock album. That's what the record companies thought Radiohead was going to be at first, which is one of the album's biggest flaws. Everything about the album screams commercialized, right down to the censored version of their hit single right at the end of the album. Pablo Honey is loaded with some quality tracks, but also some very cheesy and cliche pop tracks (Thinking About You) that will make you understand why this is most fans' least favorite Radiohead album. If you're into Radiohead, it's probably for their high-concept themes, experimental style and/or fantastic musical structure. The first is absent, the second only appears on a few tracks (specifically Blow Out, perhaps the album's best track) and musical structure hasn't developed to The Bends quality just yet. Despite all of it's flaws, Pablo Honey can be pretty damn catchy (Anyone Can Play Guitar) and contains a unique angsty version of Radiohead (Creep) that time melted away.
When listening to Pablo Honey, take it for what it is. It's a Brit-Rock album with flashes of brilliance. Understand that it is by no means produced with art in mind like Radiohead's other albums, and is certainly worth a listen or purchase from any Radiohead fan. It's an interesting experience for anyone exploring the band's roots and earlier style.
Recommended to Radiohead fans and, it pains me to say this, Brit-Rock enthusiests.
on November 12, 2003
Radiohead = Creep in some minds of the masses. But this album was much more than it's hit song "creep". This album was much more than another alternative album. This record defined the birth of Radiohead, a seed that was slowly growing it's way into the void of intelligent and ingenious music.
Pablo Honey is a VERY underrated album in my opinion, but that's what makes it so great. This album is trampled on and thrown down by so many critics (even fans of Radiohead themselves), but I love this album for its mere simplicity and the feeling that at the end of the day, no matter what Radiohead had accomplished, they were just a rock band.
Some of the songs such as "You", "Creep", and "Ripcord" got you dancing around and nodding your head to the heavy riffs that Johnny, Ed, and Thom masterminded. Other songs such as "Stop Whispering", "Thinking About You", "Vegetable", and "Lurgee" filled you with such emotion and sense of feeling. There is really not a bad song on this album. There's a few songs that don't shine as much as the others, but they're certainly listenable to say the least.
I think the reason that this album gets so much negative critisism is that it doesn't hold a light to their latter albums, which were nothing short of musical genius. Pablo Honey to me is an introduction to the musical stratum that would become a more informed, provocative, intelligent Radiohead.
Though this album is certainly no "Bends" or "OK Computer", Pablo Honey is one of my favorite Radiohead albums, and with good reason. It's not as sophisticated as the band's latter albums, rather...simplified, it's just good music. Give it a chance.
on August 19, 2003
Even with the bravely experimental Kid A and Amnesiac, Pablo Honey remains Radiohead's most controversial album and the cause of the majority of arguments about the band. The essential detail to remember is that it's the start of an ever developing and maturing vocal talent by Thom Yorke and, if for that reason alone, it's a fascinating and curious listen. But for those of you that are wondering, the argument that arises over this album is a simple one: is it an irreplaceable element of the genius that is the Radiohead musical canon, or a rather shoddy and overblown first attempt at success and recognition?
The truth can be found somwhere in between.
What will strike you first when you begin listening to Pablo Honey is how incredibly confident lead singer Thom Yorke sounds, almost to the point of being cocky. These were the days when he actually wanted to be a famous rock star, remember, perhaps more that anything and, yes, these were the silly peroxide blond days. A telltale sign of the bands' attitude towards their music is evident during the 1994 London Astoria concert (available on video), where Yorke amusingly introduces some of the Pablo Honey tracks as "oldies" and apologises for first appearances of soon-to-be greats "My Iron Lung" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", moments that you can't help but smirk knowingly at.
At this stage in his and Radiohead's career, two of Yorke's musical inspirations were Elvis Costello and Scott Walker and, blimey, you can tell, but as a young aspiring singer will often do when emulating the vocals of his hero is eventually grow out of it. Yorke ultimately did and became confident in developing his own sound, but on this, the debut Radiohead album, he is delivering to us his pet peeves, politics and posturing in a skewed homage to Costello and Walker's vocals yet delivered in a rather undernourished and puerile way that suggests a healthy amount of youthful arrogance.
The second thing that will strike you when listening to Pablo Honey is how energetic it is, full of mounting enthusiasm and churlish naivety that must be admired. As with all Radiohead albums, one listen will not do it justice, as Yorke never writes lyrics that you can instantly hum along to, but one suspects that it is to early in the game to believe these songs are in any way profound. The tracks will undoubtedly stick in the memory though, in particular "Thinking About You", "I Can't", "Lurgee" and the unfortunately titled "Vegetable", simply because they encapsulate that sound of withdrawn desperation and pitiful regret that their next albums would take to a greater level. But Radiohead were yet to refine their sound, and as it is, Pablo Honey often presents itself as an obnoxious wall of noise: all crashing drums and slamming guitars with very little direction other than to be as loud as possible. There's no sign of simple, bittersweet melodies here, the kind that would make "Fake Plastic Trees", "No Surprises" and "How To Disappear Completely" so important. Some may enjoy this musical explosion, and as previously mentioned, there's a raw and exited energy on display that will eventually be focused into greater things, which is where the arguments start. It's easy to call Pablo Honey a great album with the benefit of hindsight after seeing what Radiohead have achieved since, so taking into account the dramatic change in quality in the bands' albums, a question springs to mind: what went right? Actually, that's a trick question, you really need to ask: what went wrong?
Unless you fell into a nuclear bunker in 1993 and have only just managed to find your way out (which is what happened to me until I became a Radiohead admirer recently), you'll already know that the single from Pablo Honey, "Creep", which stormed the world and made their name in America also, ironically, almost destroyed them. Due to the popularity of "Creep", the rest of their debut album was largely ignored, and Radiohead were instantly labelled "one hit wonders". During this period they were forced to experience the often embarrassing, humiliating and tacky mainstream youth-rock promotional juggernaut quick and early. Although at the time they must have felt cursed, in the long run it did them the world of good. Firstly it took away that cocky enthusiasm and forced them to step back and ask themselves "so why are we one-hit-wonders"?
The truth is Pablo Honey isn't that good, even if you buy it for the miserable-youth anthem "Creep", a song which, if listened to in a simple acoustic version (available later as a single b-side) can be found to be pretty worthy stuff, especially without those loud "cha-chung" noises. When compared to most substandard rock industry outputs Pablo Honey could be hailed as a work of art, but as you would with a great painter or film director, it is difficult to measure Radiohead against another artists work, only against their own standards, and so their first album ultimately fails in that respect.
Nice try though.
If you have yet to listen to a single Radiohead album and are curious as to what all the fuss is about, by all means invest in Pablo Honey, as after you've become addicted to The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail To The Thief and all the surrounding b-sides, you'll find yourself stumbling back to their first ever album and trying to imagine what it was like back in 1993, hailing Creep as the song for your generation without knowing what was yet to come.
on July 2, 2003
I remember when my brother showed this to me, I was 13 and I loved it. It had so much power and depth and in places almost had a punk feel. It definately captures the energy that you feel sometimes but keep bottled in as a kid and I think that is why I listened to it so much when I was still a teenager. It was like a release. After hearing it I really started getting into music and a lot of the things I like now stem from the hearing of this album. "Thinking About You" and "Prove Yourself" always are good. I don't know why there are so many Radiohead fans that don't listen to this album. It sounds like them except a bit more of a garage feel (not really a sound)is there. It did for Radiohead what "3 Imagiary Boys" did for The Cure in that it set their image and you knew that they might get big but they would always seem little. Its one of those bands that you think speaks to you more than anyone else and nobody could quite understand what you understand about it.
on June 23, 2003
I have heard of this first album and I was fascinated by the single Creep, which is almost a classic right now. Besides, I'm a great Radiohead fan, I love all their albums, so I bought this only one that I didn't have in order to listen what it was about, and now, I've got mixed emotions about it. I must tell I hardly could identify this band with the one of OK Computer, Kid A and so on, and that's because Yorke's own voice sounds different. In addition, the style of this album is different to what Radiohead would create after, since they didn't start making use of a synthesizer till The Bends was released, and what I like most of this band is precisely the use of electronic beats, which can be noticed in the subsequent works. Also, I can't remember such happy tunes like the ones included here in any other albums. So, after some weeks listening, I can't appreciate Pablo Honey more than just listening to it a little. However, the work on the guitars is exceptional. In fact, there are a few great songs, especially Creep, How do you? or Prove yourself. So if you like the band, beware of listening to this album, since you may find it inappropriate for them, but for any other band. If you have never listened to Radiohead, I can tell you sincerely that all the other records do get a very high mark.