Radiohead - King Of Limbs (Review)

by - Monday, February 28, 2011

This review is not going to be very long, and probably not even very coherently written, but I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts as I listen for the very first time to Radiohead’s new album “Kings Of Limbs”.

Bloom - My first thoughts when I press play on Bloom are that it sounds like some strange hybrid of Friendly Fires and Foals. I could get into this. Thom Yorke’s lazy voice fits nicely over the drug infused beats. It’s all sounds pretty spacey to be honest,like losing your head in some forgotten field but being too blissed out to care. Promising opener.

Morning Mr Magpie - First and foremost, let us just applaud this great title. Surprisingly danceable, …magpie has a rather delightfully skittering beat, making me think that perhaps Radiohead are finally having a fun time. The obtuse lyrics remind me of Oasis, again got a kind of stoned vibe about it which should go down well if they do make the festivals this year; I’m expecting a sitar to bust out at any moment. Got an almost tribal vibe about it, would work well in a Mighty Boosh cameo…

Little by Little - Speaking of Oasis, they’ve robbed their song title! When this first started I honestly thought I’d put on the wrong album: Spanish guitars? Arabian percussion? Has somebody succumbed to “I’m in a massively famous stadium band so lets save the world” syndrome? Again, the spinning guitars make your head swim, and I’m seriously considering the possibility that Thom Yorke is a practising hypnotist…

Feral - Yet more jittery beats that brew up the image of a booty shaking Ed McFarlane. I’m now getting sacrificial images in my head, suggesting some sort of running tribal theme for the album. Thom’s chopped up voice adds to the sense of inescapable repetition, sucking you deeper into the clutches of team Radiohead.

Lotus Flower - A little more like the Radiohead of old, the guitars are a little bit more apparent. Probably the most focused and riveting vocals on the album, layered over the music rather than weaving within it. It has an oddly catchy chorus, the lyric “I’ll set you free” almost being code for ”you’ve listened to our self indulgent madness for long enough, so we’ll reward you with an easy listen”. On another note, the music video is well worth a watch.

Codex - is everything I love about Radiohead dispelled into one song. Starting with a simple piano, it swells and ebbs like a movie soundtrack, bringing in some subtle brass that makes you think of lonely beaches. The vocals sound like a sensitive Noel Gallagher, just loud enough to emphasise the tune but never overpowering the simplicity. Destined to become a Radiohead classic.

Give Up The Ghost - After that lulling interlude, we continue in a similar vein with some gentle slide guitar that at times appears to echo David Bowies ‘Heroes’. No? Just me? Ok then. Regardless, it’s a nice calming tune that will appeal to fans of Karma Police with it’s tunnel echo and dreamy nature.

Separator - So we finish back up on the same beat. Ever felt like you’ve heard the same song before? Throughout the album, Thom’s voice gets stronger, but I can’t help feeling this is a good place to stop. Saying that, out of the beat influenced tracks on the album it is one of the better ones, but would have benefited from being a bit higher on the track listing.

VerdictAnyone looking for a new ‘Creep’, ‘Just’ or even ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ had better look elsewhere. Overall it sounds pretty messy, but I like it. King of Limbs may do nothing to dispel their reputation as being difficult listening, but it’s typical, sprawling Radiohead with an upbeat twist; gone are the indie anthems, here is the beat experimentation. Can get a little repetitive, but should be a grower.

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