Four years after the release of the critically acclaimed In Rainbows, Radiohead abruptly released The King of Limbs on Friday after announcing the album’s release only days before.
The King of Limbs very much sounds and feels like the efforts of an experienced group. Despite the unique, experimental nature of the album, it comes off as an incredible, succinct piece of art that still manages to catch people’s attention. The album walks the line between being extremely eccentric and easy to listen to.
The album is composed around Thom Yorke’s slurred murmurs and yells, surrounded by wispy guitar, piano melodies and soft drum tapping. The byproduct is an intriguing album that captures and keeps the listener’s attention.
While the album retains some post rock elements and is perhaps less coherent than its predecessors, there’s more mumbling and distortion than the catchy and conventional beat structure of “Body Snatchers” and other tracks off of In Rainbows.
It still exists within the sphere of Radiohead, however melodic minimalism makes the album, as it did past records. Regardless, The King of Limbs manages to be incomparable all on its own both from Radiohead and anything else being produced right now.
There’s something else much more extraordinary about the album. Something aboutThe King of Limbs is just so pure. It lets you peer into the hearts and minds of Yorke and company.
“There’s an empty space inside my heart and it won’t take root,” sung in “Lotus Flower.” This and other songs are laced with sorrowful meaning by Yorke and coupled with intelligent but heartfelt instrumentals that draw you into the personal, emotional sphere.
Although what they express isn’t always evident, it is clear that they put themselves deep into their work.
“Slowly we unfurl as lotus flowers and all I want is the moon upon a stick dancing around the pit,” sung in “Lotus Flower” has no narrative, but instead features a composition of different scenarios thrown together in a poetic format.
Perhaps the only disenchanting portion of Radiohead’s latest effort is its lack of new direction relative to their catalog. While past Radiohead albums such as OK Computer and Kid A were steps in genre-defying directions, The King of Limbs is more indicative of a typical Radiohead content with glitchy, off-beat electronica rock. Maybe Radiohead is maturing or they have settled into a style that works.
Regardless, it would be nice to hear an entirely new, revitalized Radiohead record in the future. Even if what they’re doing works, virtually every Radiohead album has “worked” in the same sense.
Back from the days of Pablo Honey to The Bends and so on and so forth, Radiohead has proven themselves incapable of creating music that falls into the less-than-exemplary category. The King of Limbs exists as a continuation of this.
For those who like: Portishead, Massive Attack, Beck