Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

A week ago today, the music world was put on pause. Radiohead released a message simply saying "Thank you for waiting" and a link to their new album's website stating it would be out in five days. The album is called "The King of Limbs" and it was instead released in four, here is my review.

Overall: Radiohead bring it to the table once again. Compare this to "Kid A" or "In Rainbows" and be prepared to be disappointed. Compare it to other releases this year, and you'll find something spectacular. My only complaint is it needs more up tempo songs, like 15 Step, Bodysnatchers, Jigsaw Falling Into Place. On "The King of Limbs" it is very similar from track to track with the exception of 'Morning Mr. Magpie' and 'Little by Little' but somehow Radiohead is able to keep your attention. This album feels very natural, though the music itself mainly relies on loops, atmosphere, and background noises. The lyrics and feeling it brings reminds me of walking around Dagobah or any swamp covered world, filled with lotus flowers, and 1,000 year old trees.


Track by track:

'Bloom' - Starting off with a beautiful piano arpeggio that reminds me of music heard in Legend of Zelda. Later coupled with a very consistent yet powerful drum beat, simple but profound bass, and Thom's screeching makes this a very strong and impressive opener. Also has, what I find to be, a thoughtful lyric that had me thinking for a while, "We'll die until we die" sung, repeated, and whaled many times by Thom.

'Morning Mr. Magpie' - Complete 180 from 'Bloom'. Very quick, starting off with some muted, quick picking, and Thom immediately whaling "You've got some nerve, coming here." The guitar part remains all the way through and this is one of the few songs that has a guitar. There's a really nice instrumental breakdown in the middle, and it picks right back up to the speed picking guitar beautifully. This song seems to drag on a bit, Thom is spending too much time using his lyrics to accuse someone of doing (or rather not) doing something.

'Little By Little' - The 'Reckoner' of "The King of Limbs" if 'Reckoner' was meant to be scary and loud. The guitar line is very similar. As always, Thom is whaling. Johnny does some awesome slide guitar on this song and Colin's bass really makes the song spooky and clear why the artwork was chosen to represent the album.

'Feral' - Bleh. Has some really awesome drums courtesy of Phil, but other than that, there's really nothing going on. Some more creepy shit, but nothing really too extraordinary.

'Lotus Flower' - And this, this is where the album comes alive. Hand claps, some awesome reverb, something about this song gives off a really intergalactic feel. Thom is finally singing, instead of whaling, and it is fucking beautiful. The bass in this song really carries it well. When Thom does start whaling and singing falsetto, it's appropriate and fitting with the song in the way it progresses and the instruments that go along with it. The chorus is excellent, even though there's really only three tracks going on, Thom, the drums, and some chords on keys, they harmonize perfectly. The way this song progresses is truly phenomenal. The lyrics are nonsensical at parts, Thom singing about wanting the moon on a stick, but the overall message is just to accept yourself, do what you love, and become your own person. Cliché, but not the way Radiohead does it.

'Codex'- Damn. Depressing. Suicidal. Fucking beautiful. Song is dominated by piano chords and Thom singing about jumping into a clear, innocent, body of water when he is alone. It's tear jerking and inspiring. Little changes in this song, some horns are added, but it doesn't matter. It's so emotionally gripping and atmospheric, it pulls you in, and creates crystal clear imagery, like the water Thom is contemplating diving in.

'Giving Up the Ghost' - Back to whaling, but only in the background, though it is through the whole song "Don't have me, don't want me." This song is really folkish, both with Johnny's guitar playing and Thom's singing. More horns in this one too. A lot of people have been praising this song, but I really don't see it, it's long, repetitive, and boring. Thom's singing is great, and there is a really good guitar that comes in. But the first half of this track is almost unbearable for me.

'Separator' - Best track on the album. It's the only one that really doesn't fit with the rest of the album in that it uses some pretty standard instruments and doesn't rely to much on ambiance. The guitar in this track is simply fantastic, bravo to Johnny. The vocals are great too, Thom's melody during the chorus "If you think this is over than you're wrong" is applauded by myself. The drums are great, and reminiscent of Weird Fishes/Arpeggi if they were slowed down and calmed down.

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