Progressive rock sought to expand the language of rock music, and also to raise its artistic game until it achieved some kind of wider acceptance within the grand narrative of ‘proper’ artistic achievement. The successes and failures of this effort are much discussed even now: less commented on was the effort that rock writing went to in order to reflect the magnified status of its host artform.

The problem for most rock hacks was that the musical advances being made by bands like King Crimson were well beyond their analytic powers. Discussion of the technical complexities of the prog bands was impossible: how then could writers best express the colossal (and highly serious) strides being made towards the hallowed ground of ART? They turned in general towards literary criticism – or rather, towards a frothy imitation of Leavisite literary criticism: lots of lyrical analysis and high-minded artistic comparisons (this band was Kafkaesque, these musicians were rock Picassos, this album bestrode music like nothing since Bach, etc. etc.).

It made for gruesome reading, this attempt at a rock High Criticism. And it remained a powerful trend in music writing until quite recently, when an unholy combination of commercial crassness, punky fanzine styles, and a ‘serious’ criticism which didn’t rely on literary leg-ups for legitimacy wiped it out. But it turns out that some writers remember those days with fondness: the new column from Pitchfork is classic High Rockcrit, with Joycean parallels, Kafka references, and a poetry quote or two thrown in for good measure, all dolling up what is essentially a track-by-track runthrough of the new Radiohead album (yes, again).

The question of whether or not this kind of approach is suitable for rock music is too big to get into here (I think, in general, it isn’t, but it can be funny if done with less gravitas). The problem here is that it doesn’t work as criticism. Brent Sirota’s essay treats Radiohead as if they exist in a vacuum, as if no other music is being made today. But Kid A exists in direct relation to a lot of other music – to write an essay this long and inflated about it without even suggesting its current musical context is simply bad criticism. Kid A is interesting because it’s a relatively abstruse record which a lot of people will buy: but its peers are Laughing Stock and For Beginner Piano, not Finnegan’s Wake and William Blake.