Love Letter To A Record: Palace On Radiohead’s Classic ‘The Bends’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Matt Hodges, Palace – Radiohead, The Bends (1995)

I probably played The Bends more than any other album growing up, and I remember the CD ending up getting so scratched from overuse and skipping at ‘(Nice Dream)’ which really killed the vibe.

It’s one of those albums where all the tracks are amazing and you have to listen to it from start to finish. It was just a huge part of my musical education, and one of the kick-starters to me first picking up a guitar and realising how much I loved playing music.

It was the soundtrack to my life for a good while. That sound at the start of the whole album is just so iconic. You just know what it is when it starts and know you’re in for a ride. The drum groove of ‘Planet Telex’ kicks in and it had me hooked on the first listen.

Straight on into the title track ‘The Bends’, again it just hits you with no time to breathe. When that descending guitar line lands in the second half of the second verse, it’s magic. I used to rewind that bit over and over and fall into a trance over it.

‘High and Dry’ and ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ are obviously iconic, with amazing builds and addictive, soaring guitar lines, which for me make up one of the best first quarters of any album there’s been. Those two were the ones at the time, but now I listen to ‘Planet Telex’ and ‘The Bends’ more. Maybe I just enjoy wallowing in melancholy less than I used to!

The next few tracks make up the next little set with ‘Just’ giving you a slap round the face just when you’ve just started levitating after ‘(Nice Dream)’.

Additionally, the vocals in ‘Bullet Proof’ take you to another place, and then it’s the home straight with more soaring vocals before you can get settled in for the final anthem to the morose that is ‘Street Spirit’. The build of the drums is amazing and I remember when I first saw the music video I couldn’t stop watching.

It feels like a bit of a cliché to say but I feel like the whole record has so many different moments of light and shade, and it just captured a moment in my life so perfectly – a time when I was listening to it on repeat.

The more downbeat songs made me just as happy, if not more, as the upbeat songs, and it was a record that made me feel so comfortable and content in the feelings it gave me.

It was an amazing ‘soundtrack to life’ album back then and still is now. It’s a source of musical escapism for me to reminisce about the time in my life when I first discovered it, and to listen to it now and watch the world go by, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

London-based rock band Palace released their new album ‘Shoals’ today. Listen here.

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