After an artist has been as highly-regarded for as long as Radiohead has been, it’s easy to forget what was so exciting about that artist in the first place. After sneaking out from under future-one-hit-wonder status to usurp the title of World’s Greatest Living Rock Band from U2 in the mid-90s with their albums The Bends and OK Computer, Radiohead channeled their renown into crafting two of the strangest, most dissonant and experimental records to ever top the American pop charts – Kid A and Amnesiac.

In the last decade, with the single ascendant (due to the advent of iTunes and easy piracy), Radiohead have almost single-handedly kept the album relevant as a form. Which is why it was sort of disheartening, if not entirely surprising, to hear Thom Yorke talk about the band moving away from recording albums after the release of 2007’s In Rainbows. 15 years after The Bends, it’s easy to take for granted that Radiohead have been the greatest album band of their time; but it’s even easier to forget that the band first got our attention by just writing some really good songs (“Creep” among them, to my thinking). Tonight, I was taking the long way home from work because I just got a new car – one that I can plug my iPod into! I had it playing on shuffle and when I heard the shimmering opening notes of “Let Down”, I didn’t even recognize it. It was like I was hearing the song – which I had in heavy rotation on my Walkman in the summer of ’97 – for the very first time. The way Yorke sings the verses in gradually expanding ellipses of melody; the way his voice maintains a flatness and distance even as the music behind him grows grander and more urgent; the layers of shimmer and twinkle, delicately plucked arpeggios and folky strumming chords backing up lyrical images of disappointed people “clinging to bottles”. I’m not sure how serious Thom Yorke was about Radiohead focusing entirely on singles – and Radiohead have always been a band that thrive when they’re defying expectations, even the ones they’ve helped to perpetuate – but if, in fact, they never release another album, I have every reason to suspect that they’ll become the Greatest Living Singles Band in the World. Songs like this are why.