A long (10:27), crazily brilliant song by Mr. Bungle from their 1995 album Disco Volante. This song has an extremely odd feeling, and more than one suprise. Most of the song's resonance sounds underwater, with the thick bass you hear when you hold your head underwater. The instruments in it sound great, especially the bass and keyboards - and the clean picked guitar about 3/4 way through. The different parts of the song (Almost like movements in classical symphonies) are mainly signified by the song fading out and then back in again quickly.

These parts are: There are hardly any actual lyrics in this song, apart from Mike Patton using his voice as a musical accompaniment - In The Drowning Flute (second "movement"), for example. You can hear him lightly saying "The Bends" in one of the movements, however, that's about it for lyrics.

Music by: Mike Patton/Trey Spruance/Clinton McKinnon

The Bends is Radiohead's second full-length album. After the success of Creep caused much of the music press to label Radiohead as one-hit wonders, they returned to the studio and permanently silenced any claims that they would fade away and disappear with this album. Released to glowing reviews in 1995, The Bends significantly changed the Radiohead sound while at the same time it showed a greater maturity in composition. Popular success, however, would not return to the band until 1997's OK Computer.

There are twelve tracks, all written by the band (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Colin Greenwood, and Phil Selway) and produced by John Leckie:

  1. Planet Telex (4:18)
    A spaced-out opening with lots of reverb ushers in the album, setting the stage for the textured hard rock to follow. A traditionally downbeat Radiohead lyric proceeds while the band shows just how much harmonic texture can be extracted from three guitars. A laid-back sea of intertwining melodies underlies the verses, clarifying for the chorus. The spaciness returns for the outro until eventually everything dissolves into the ending. This is an effective opening that shows what the band is capable of.
  2. The Bends (4:06)
    The title track is a driving piece with heavy, distorted guitars. The vocals take a much more prominent position, with the guitars calming down during the stream-of-consciousness lament of isolation. During the refrain, a strong backbeat of the kind that will resurface on OK Computer's opener Airbag replaces the driving guitar riffs. The return of the riff accompanies a little mind game played by the band using the liner notes. The printed lyrics "The words are coming out all weird" are replaced with the sung lyrics "The planet is a gunboat in a sea of fear". In the end, it's not the best song on the album, but it's very good nonetheless.
  3. High and Dry (4:17)
    The first of the calmer pieces on the album, High and Dry is a very bittersweet love song. It is done in a peaceful and oddly satisifying fashion, with the three-guitar texture resurfacing towards the end, which, unlike in the previous songs, does not disturb the the feeling of serenity.
  4. Fake Plastic Trees (4:50)
    More of an out-and-out ballad than High and Dry, this song's focus is its haunting lyric about illusory appearances and the search for things that are truly genuine. The music subtly builds to a climax at about 3:00, that is, like many things Radiohead, both depressing and uplifting at the same time.
  5. Bones (3:08)
    The shortest song on the album, and with good reason, too, as its theme of rapid passage of time and its straightforward guitar attack would be blunted by increased length. Truly thundering distorted guitars lead the way through most of the piece, with textured dissonance appearing in the latter half of the song.
  6. (nice dream) (3:53)
    A laid-back island of calm between Bones and Just, this fan favourite again shows off the ability of the band to create texture, using strategically placed strings to supplement the band's instruments. Unlike most other rock songs, this one is in 6/8 time, rather than the usual 4/4. The dreamy lyrics and feel of the song do not prevent it from getting heavy at points.
  7. Just (3:54)
    The best song on the album, from its somewhat Nirvana-esque opening to the simple but stylish verses and the soaring, multi-layered chorus. About halfway through some of the better guitar solos to be found on a Radiohead album show up and then it builds, without hurry, to its supremely textured ending. Combined with its perfect but maddening music video (see here for details), this is an alternative-rock classic.
  8. My Iron Lung (4:36)
    This stripped-down and greasy song tells about the band's frustrations about their big hit Creep, and their inability to get attention for any other song. Less texture is apparent throughout this song, preferring instead to have a single point of interest at each time. Nevertheless, it fits into the album as a whole and is effective as a song. This may just be the best song with which to introduce someone to Radiohead.
  9. Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was (3:28)
    One of the most purely melancholic songs on the album, this is a quiet guitar ballad with a very catchy riff during the chorus. A chance to relax after the drive of the previous two songs.
  10. Black Star (4:07)
    Unlike most Radiohead songs, or rock songs for that matter, this song fades in in the intro. The lyrics portray a relationship on the rocks, with the singer blaming the situation on fate (the eponymous "black star"). In the end, the singer has a hard time dealing with the idea that it really is all over. The texture returns with several layered riffs filling out the song.
  11. Sulk (3:42)
    A fairly weak song, with the downbeat lyric conflicting with the upbeat and cheerful main riff in an ineffective way. Nevertheless, it is still much better than weak songs by most bands.
  12. Street Spirit (Fade Out) (4:12)
    Considered by many to be the 'purest' Radiohead song, Street Spirit is also one of the bleakest. Were it not for the ending lines of "Immerse your soul in love", it would be a crushingly sad song. With a weaving guitar line and truly mournful lyrics, the song achieves a sublime beauty unparallelled in most bands's repertoires. This is a song that you can immerse yourself in, possibly even drown in. It completes the album, and the completed album is a masterpiece.
Not only is The Bends a great album in its own right, it bridges effectively from Radiohead's tumultuous beginnings on Pablo Honey to their stripped-down perfection on OK Computer.
Also the title track to the album. Lyrics:

where do we go from here?
the words are coming out all weird where are you now
when I need you?
alone on an aeroplane
falling asleep against the window pane.
my blood will thicken.

I need to wash myself again
to hide all the dirt and pain.
'cause I'd be scared that there's nothing underneath
and who are my real friends?
have they all got the bends?
am I really sinking this low?


my baby's got the bends
we don't have any real friends
I'm just lying in a bar with my drip feed on talking to my girlfriend and waiting for something to happen
and I wish it was the sixties, I wish we could be happy, I wish, I wish
I wish that something would happen...

where do we go from here
the planet is a gunboat in a sea of fear and where are you?
they brought in the CIA the tanks and the whole marines to blow me away
to blow me sky high


I want to live and breathe.
I want to be part of the human race.

where do we go from here?
the words are coming out all weird where are you now
when I need you?

There are variances between the lyrics in the liner notes and the sung lyrics; this is an attempt to replicate the sung lyrics.
This writeup is CST Approved.
This writeup is copyright 2002 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/ .

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