Studio album by Radiohead
Released 5 June 2001
Recorded January 1999 – late 2000
Genre Experimental rock, electronica, art rock
Length 43:55
Label Parlophone
Producer Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead chronology
Kid A
Hail to the Thief
Singles from Amnesiac
  1. "Pyramid Song"
    Released: 16 May 2001
  2. "I Might Be Wrong"
    Released: June 2001
  3. "Knives Out"
    Released: 6 August 2001

Amnesiac is the fifth studio album by English rock band Radiohead, released in June 2001 on Parlophone. Debuting at the top of the UK charts and number two on the Billboard 200, Amnesiac featured more audible guitar than its direct predecessor Kid A, and unlike that album, it spun off several singles. Like Kid A, it synthesised influences of electronic music, ambient music, classical music, and jazz.


Recording and relation to Kid A

Both Amnesiac and Radiohead's album Kid A, which was released eight months earlier in 2000, were recorded in the same period. Most songs on Amnesiac were recorded during the same recording sessions that produced Kid A ("Life in a Glasshouse", however, was recorded with the band of jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton in late 2000, after the release of Kid A).

According to guitarist Ed O'Brien, "We had to come to grips with starting a song from scratch in the studio and making it into something, rather than playing it live, rehearsing it and then getting a good take of a live performance. None of us played that much guitar on these records. Suddenly we were presented with the opportunity and the freedom to approach the music the way Massive Attack does: as a collective, working on sounds, rather than with each person in the band playing a prescribed role. It was quite hard work for us to adjust to the fact that some of us might not necessarily be playing our usual instrument on a track, or even playing any instrument at all. Once you get over your insecurities, then it's great."[1]

While explaining the decision to release two albums rather than one, singer Thom Yorke said, "They are separate because they cannot run in a straight line with each other. They cancel each other out as overall finished things... In some weird way, I think Amnesiac gives another take on Kid A, a form of explanation." He continued: "Something traumatic is happening in Kid A… this is looking back at it, trying to piece together what has happened."[2] About the differences with the previous record he says: "I think the artwork is the best way of explaining it. The artwork to Kid A was all in the distance. The fires were all going on the other side of the hill. With Amnesiac, you're actually in the forest while the fire's happening."

Yorke said, "I read that the gnostics believe when we are born we are forced to forget where we have come from in order to deal with the trauma of arriving in this life. I thought this was really fascinating. It's like the river of forgetfulness. It may have been recorded at the same time... but it comes from a different place I think. It sounds like finding an old chest in someone's attic with all these notes and maps and drawings and descriptions of going to a place you cannot remember. That's what I think anyway."[3]

The album is dedicated to "Noah and Jamie", sons of Thom Yorke and Phil Selway, respectively, who were born between the release of Kid A and the release of Amnesiac.


The album's lead single was "Pyramid Song", except in the United States where "I Might Be Wrong" was a radio-only single.[citation needed] "Pyramid Song" was Radiohead's first single since 1998's "No Surprises", as their prior album, Kid A, had spun off no official singles. The song reached #5 in the UK, one of the band's highest chart positions. The second single on both sides of the Atlantic was "Knives Out", which reached #13 in the UK and #1 in Canada. Again, unlike Kid A, music videos were produced for both singles, by Shynola and Michel Gondry, respectively. Two separate videos were made for "I Might Be Wrong", one by Sophie Muller, and an Internet-only release by Chris Bran.


Amnesiac was generally well-received by critics.[4] It was also ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several publications. The Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll ranked it number 6 on their top 10 albums of the year. Alternative Press declared it the #1 album of the year. Los Angeles Times also ranked it number 5, and Rolling Stone ranked it number 10 and also ranked it 25 on the 100 best albums of the decade. Others included Magnet (in no order), Mojo (number 8), 3 of the 4 major reviewers of The Onion (number 8, 8, and 5), and Spin and Spin Cycle at number 2 and 3. The album nearly matched Kid A in terms of sales, and although it debuted lower in America it yet managed to sell more copies in its first week. As a result, Amnesiac indicated that the band's continued musical explorations were commercially viable to a mass audience, and cemented Radiohead's status as one of only a few modern UK rock bands able to achieve consistent success in the US.[5] In 2010, Rolling Stone would rank Amnesiac as the 25th best album of the decade 2000-2009.[6]

Amnesiac was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2001, though it lost to PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, an album on which Yorke had appeared the previous year in a duet with Harvey (Yorke thanked PJ Harvey in the liner notes to Radiohead's 2003 release, Hail to the Thief). Like Radiohead's three previous releases, Amnesiac was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album, but the award instead went to Coldplay for Parachutes.

The band wrote the songs for both Amnesiac and Kid A in the studio, without regard for live performances, which had to be developed and arranged later. Many of the songs that ended up on Amnesiac had been played and recorded during shows in 2000 to promote Kid A. Radiohead had not toured widely outside of Europe since 1998, but in 2001, their Amnesiac tour reached North America and Japan.

Several months after the release of Amnesiac, the I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings EP was published featuring recordings from the tour, including Amnesiac tracks "I Might Be Wrong", "Dollars and Cents" and a piano arrangement of "Like Spinning Plates".

Track listing

All tracks written by Radiohead.

  1. "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" – 4:00
  2. "Pyramid Song" – 4:49
  3. "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors"[note 1] – 4:07
  4. "You and Whose Army?" – 3:11
  5. "I Might Be Wrong" – 4:54
  6. "Knives Out" – 4:15
  7. "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" – 3:14
  8. "Dollars and Cents" – 4:52
  9. "Hunting Bears" – 2:01
  10. "Like Spinning Plates" – 3:57
  11. "Life in a Glasshouse" – 4:34
  1. ^ Titled "Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors" on the special edition release.


  1. ^ Interview with Ed O'Brien from review of Amnesiac. 3 June 2001. The Chicago Tribune.
  2. ^ Linder, Brian (24 March 2009). "Radiohead: Worst to Best". IGN Entertainment, Inc.. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  3. ^ :: Spin With A Grin ::
  4. ^ Amnesiac at MetaCritic. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  5. ^ "US success for Radiohead". BBC News. 14 June 2001. 
  6. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Decade (2000-2009)". Rolling Stone. Archived at Retrieved 22 June 2010.

External links

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