Feb 26, 2011
For those of you who hadn't heard, Radiohead released an album last week. Every single album Radiohead has released has had me clicking play and Repeat All so I can truly take the music in. Along with Tool, Pearl Jam, and Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead is one of a handful of bands that when I listen to I give all my attention to, I put myself in different situations to appreciate the album and I listen looking for the next album that will make an imprint in my life.
With Radiohead, every single album has been a rewarding experience in itself, including the band shunned Pablo Honey, the oddly overlooked Hail to the Thief and the misunderstood and under-appreciated Amnesiac. From Pablo Honey I can mention Blow Out, Everyone can Play Guitar and the most epic Stop Whispering as songs that truly hold water and really are satisfying with each subsequent listen. From Amnesiac you have Like Spinning Plates, Knives Out, Pyramid Song, Packt Like Sardines in a Tin Can and the quietly angry You and Whose Army. From Hail to the Thief there’s the excellent opener 2 + 2 = 5, the beautiful Sit Down Stand Up, There There, I will, the creepy We Suck Young Blood and the wonderful closer A Wolf At the Door.
That last paragraph is simply to establish that even a “weak” Radiohead album probably contains some of the best music you will hear in a year, a decade or maybe your life. So where does The King of Limbs figure in all of this? If I had to describe based on previous albums, think of Kid A and In Rainbows having a love child and I think that’s what King of Limbs is to me. It is its own monster and an album that for 37 minutes doesn’t let up. Actually the opening track sounds like Radiohead channeling a tribute to Gustavo Cerati’s Tabú from his second album Bocanada, but it sounds nothing like it. There are drum loops and there are electronic bleeps, but it’s all hauntingly organic. Unlike Kid A that felt like the existential cry of a sapient robot, The King of Limbs starts off with something that plays equally well in your mind with fast forwarded footage or things going in slow motion because it does both at the same time. It unravels, growing into a ghostly beauty that sets the overall tone for the album.
If I had to describe the vibe present in the King of Limbs, I think the video for Lotus Flower describes it perfectly. It’s you waking up on a chilly Sunday morning in a life that might seem bleak, but that it is not hopeless. Everything is black and white. The tea you are sipping is delicious and you can’t help but dance in your underwear throughout your entire house. It’s got a shoulder sway to it in various songs that invites everyone to not care and let the beats dictate where your body leans to. Morning Mr. Magpie does nothing to change this vibe. You still want to dance in ordinary places like a bank line and show people that you don’t give a flying, landed, or swimming fuck. Music reigns supreme and this music tells you to move. You see hints of all past albums painting a pastiche that is all its own. A different dish with familiar ingredients and something secret added to the mix.
Then Little by Little fades in and you feel echoes of Amnesiac peeking from around the corner. In reality, it’s a devil track dressed up in an Amnesiac suit. It’s got the tailor lines, but moves to its own rhythm, it’s subtle in its composition and doesn’t scream “look at me” but if you listen closely there are so many layers to the track that thinking anyone else could make a song like this means you think Coldplay is the greatest band ever. To be honest, if any track really lets you know that this is an album that you should also listen to with headphones, it’s Little by Little because it sounds simple if you don’t pay attention. Feral then swings by to continue urging you to move your limbs, walk with a beat and feel as well as listen. Basically memories of Kid A play on a track that could easily make its way onto a dance floor and afterwards comes the first album single. The music video is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen by Radiohead and although it’s not my favorite video, if anything it captures the essence of the entire album with just Thom Yorke dancing in black and white. Elaborating more would be counterproductive, so just put your headphones on and dance if your body wants to, it quite possibly will. Since I heard the song I can’t stop thinking of a beautiful woman dancing in her flat wearing nothing except a torn t-shirt, and comfortable undergarments. I see her stepping to the beat and she doesn’t care if someone is watching. She is in her world and the only thing that matters is that she obeys the whims of her undulating body. A bit elaborate for a mental picture, but hey, such is I.
Then comes Codex, a slow song that unfolds itself at its own pace. It’s a break in the overall danceable feel to the album and if anything, it feels as if you have just danced your way up to a cliff without realizing it and now you’re looking to the horizon and taking a moment to contemplate. You are looking down at the rocks below, wonder about a million things, sit down and cradle your warmest thoughts, your saddest feelings and resolve to accept whatever is in your tank. It’s quite haunting but it doesn’t feel as immersed in despair as some other Radiohead tracks like I will or Bulletproof I wish I was. The seventh track has you coming down from that cliff and is surprisingly airy and lighthearted given that the entire song repeats the verse (Don’t hurt me) throughout. Maybe it has to do with the duo of acoustic and electric guitars but it’s a song that feels uplifting and it’s a lovely bit that leads into the final track, Separator. The funny thing is that this track does with this album as the other songs do with other Radiohead albums. It’s not that it sounds out of place, it’s just that it sounds as if it’s taking what was built in the first 7 tracks and is starting to head into a different direction which truly prompts the belief that the lyrics may actually reveal intentions from the band… simply put: if we think this is over, then we’re wrong.
Highlight Tracks: The entire album, but especially – Bloom – Morning Mr. Magpie – Codex – Lotus Flower – Give up the Ghost - Separator
Posted by Joker at 12:10 AM