Released February 22, 1993.

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.

  • 1) Radiohead's best work is as a guitar band

    Radiohead has run the sonic gamut over the years when it comes to their creative output. But I contend the best of that creative output has come when guitars are in the forefront. The Bends is the band’s best work, and while it’s not as guitar-heavy as Pablo Honey, the guitar is still at the center, building off the foundation laid on their debut. Kinda makes sense to toss this one in right now, right?

  • 2) 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' aren't as good as you remember

    In the early 2000s, the move by Radiohead fans and the early music blogosphere was to elevate Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief while minimizing Pablo Honey and The Bends. This was the wrong move. I get it: those albums were such a departure and a musical revelation at the time. But when’s the last time you threw Kid A or Amnesiac on? Has it been awhile? I’ve got news for you: they’re both a fucking bummer. Even for Radiohead albums, and that’s saying something! Give me THIS energy, please.

  • 1) "Creep" is an all-time great rock song

    Ask a fan of any ilk to name the first Radiohead song that comes to mind and odds are they’ll say “Creep.” Why? Because it’s an absolute, unfuckwithable classic. I don’t care that the band doesn’t like it, I don’t care that some fans think it’s an overplayed radio hit. It’s not just one of the greatest songs Radiohead ever produced, it’s one of the greatest songs the ’90s ever produced. And what album is it on again? Oh, that’s right. Pablo Honey.

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