Radiohead‘s Pablo Honey turned 30 last week. I was on vacation and not on the air, so I wasn’t able to remind you how wrong you are about it.
I guess I should lead with a disclaimer. If you, like me, are a Radiohead fan who enjoys and appreciates their 1993 debut full-length Pablo Honey, this diatribe is not directed at you. Instead of feeling shame after reading my piece, you can feel vindication. “Finally!” you will say. “Someone actually gets that Pablo Honey is a great album and hasn’t received the respect it deserves from the fans and music press over the the last three decades!” you will also say. Or something to that effect.
Pablo Honey was the whipping boy of the Radiohead discography for years, until The King of Limbs came along in 2011. Before that point, critics and fans almost universally placed the band’s debut album at the bottom of their catalog rankings, with very few exceptions. I have always been one of those exceptions. Back in 2015, I placed the album fourth in their (at the time) 8-album catalog. Here’s what I wrote then:
I can hear you whining now: “Seriously, ‘Pablo Honey’ in the top half of the list?” Look, just because you’ve dismissed the band’s oft-overlooked debut album as just “Creep” and a bunch of other tracks doesn’t make it right. It’s a damn good album. Criminally underrated.
Radiohead’s Pablo Honey: 3 Reasons Why You’re Wrong About It
Eight years later, I maintain that stance. Pablo Honey should not be dismissed as the soft debut of a band who would go on to do bigger, better things. The album is deserving of your respect and your time, more so than some of the albums in the Radiohead oeuvre that you probably hold in higher esteem. I’ll tell you why.