Album Review: The King Of Limbs

Radiohead took a four-year hiatus only to return and release an eight-song, 37-minute LP of pretentious, heavily-looped B-sides. That sentiment seems to be a popular complaint among the talentless members of the underachieving blogosphere. Let’s take another listen, evaluators! Radiohead albums have always required repeated listens. I despised Amnesiac upon first listen, but the album grew until it sprouted into a six-month addiction during Napster’s peak. Why are we expecting another OK Computer or Kid A? Let your favorite band explore new ground, experiment, and not give a fuck what you think …

The King of Limbs not layered enough for you? The opening track, “Bloom” features more gorgeous layers than I can recall from other songs in the entire discography. Haunting strings and the high-pitched perfection of an emotional Thom Yorke conduct a stunning wall of noise. “Little by Little” sounds like a bastard child of Amnesiac and In Rainbows. “Feral” is my favorite track this week, a complete departure from anything the band has released in years. Yorke is definitely wearing his recent collabs with Flying Lotus and Modeselektor on his sleeve. “Lotus Flower” is a beautiful and stifling track that features exquisitely ambiguous lyrics from Yorke, who also serves up a free-form dance for the official video (see below) inspired by his freak-out antics during live shows. YouTube videos immediately surfaced with Yorke dancing to mainstream dance favorites like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” I’m not going to embed it here, you can search for yourself.

“Codex” finds Yorke at a piano singing a heart-wrenching ballad: “Jump off the end into a clear lake | No one around, just dragonflies | Flying to the side, no one gets hurt | You’ve done nothing wrong.” Although the song reminds me of “Last Flowers” or “Videotape” from In Rainbows, it’s a severely stripped down track that relies on Yorke’s delicate delivery and late accompanying strings. Another highlight is “Give Up The Ghost,” which finds Yorke singing along with a sampled version of his own voice, as he’s done on previous efforts (see “I Will” from Hail to the Thief). For those complaining there is no guitar on this album, have you listened closing track, “Separator”? Johnny Greenwood’s melodic guitar arrangement accompanies Yorke’s harmonies and Selway’s off-time back beat for a nearly perfect ending. “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong” Yorke repeats four times near the end of the track. While some are hoping for a sequel, I’m going to put this one on for another spin and be thankful my generation’s most talented group of musicians still finds the energy and inspiration to continuously challenge my musical predispositions. The King of Limbs is our early leader for favorite album of the year.

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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