This is it. Released even a day earlier than expected, it's the newest album from the biggest name in Rock and Roll. Here at The Revolting Blog we have gotten our advanced copy and listened to it now 7 times on repeat! We are far more qualified to tell you about this album than anyone else on the internet. Ever.
The first thing you should know is that there are only 8 tracks on this album, for a total runtime of less than 40 minutes. Come on, Radiohead. That's a little weak. I am sure there will be a barrage of B-sides to come our way, and with this particular band that's nothing to scoff at. Nonetheless, after all this anticipation I would appreciate at least a double digit track-count to sink my teeth into.
Let's make no mistake about it: this is Thom Yorke's Radiohead. King of Limbs has the electronic-laden proclivities of his 2006 Eraser album. The first sound we hear is a lonesome piano riff, paving the way for an unsettling tone from eery rumbles of dark electronica. Slowly building, a synthesized drum beat intertwines with the steady pulse of distant bassnotes.
Radiohead is music for a broken world and Yorke is the unyielding harbinger of all our many fractures. He sounds as melancholy and subdued as ever, delivering his trademark haunting falsetto throughout what I guess you could call the refrain of Bloom--the appropriately titled opening track.
The sonic landscape here is bleak and barren. Somewhat akin to what we experienced when listening to their 2000 gamechanging masterpiece, KID A. Perfect soundtrack to the impending Zombacolpyse that--as Radiohead music has a fantastic way of reminding us--is always right around the corner.
The disorienting riff and accompanying drumbeat that underpins Morning Mr. Magpie is difficult to identify with. There are a lot of layers here and several conflicting instruments are vying for my attention. I really don't know how to feel about this song after the first listen. The third track--Little By Little--is immediately catchy and stands out as an initial gem. Some middle-eastern type twangs coming from the guitars, which are more audible here than they were in the opening two numbers. I wish they were more prevalent throughout the entire album, but it seems as if guitarists Greenwood and O'Brien have been constrained by Thom Yorke's desire to take the band in a more techno-melodic direction. As a result, a number of the tracks wound up sounding repetitive and at times even redundant. One thing remains certain, however, the production value of King of Limbs is second to none and you can clearly hear the methodical, meticulous dedication that the artists bring into the studio. Perhaps it explains why Radiohead took the better part of a year to put the finishing touches on this album.
If you're looking for upbeat numbers to make your body rock, you probably should be listening to a different band. LCD Soundsystem's most recent album for example would satisfy this requirement. As for King of Limbs, I only came across three tracks that immediately generated a little movement: Separator, Lotus Flower, and Little By Little, all feature more conventional beats, albeit accompanied by ethereal melodies that are bound to grow on you. Give Up the Ghost seems destined for possible inclusion on epic playlists of the future.
As a friend put it, this album feels more like a follow up to Yorke's Eraser, and less of an evolution from Radiohead's most recent In Rainbows. It certainly is a complex, if somewhat dreary, statement that is not entirely accessible to the masses. By the end of my first listen, I was eager to repeat it all over again from the beginning. My impression of this album will undoubtedly mutate upon subsequent exposure, as is the case with all great forms of art. And at the end of the day, love it or hate it, you're gonna have to own this album. It's Radiohead, ya bloody wanker-the Biggest Rock Band In The World.
We will return soon with a review of the internet's newest sensation: The Facebook.