Saturday, 13 August 2011

The King Of Limbs

Artist: Radiohead
Album: The King Of Limbs

A week after it's release, and there are already conspiracy theories circling about Radiohead's new record "The King Of Limbs." For example, the fact that some people believe that, as this is Radiohead's first album in four years, and it also clocks in as their shortest album to date (in at just under 40 minutes), then these 8 tracks cannot possibly be all that the band have conjured. Also bare in mind the fact that there were two 10" vinyls included with the CD release, and when you download a digital copy of the album the file is named "TKOL1," suggesting there is perhaps another chapter to the "King of Limbs" extravaganza. It's all very...Radiohead.

Considering the complexity and sound of some of the songs on this record, it would be unfair to suggest that the band haven't worked their asses off towards this. Opener "Bloom" starts off with a rhythmic pulsating beat before opening up into a flurry of organic orchestration. But there is something much darker at the heart of this album. Something, cold and bare, lurking in the corners, emotions scrunched up and fueled by some kind of misery it seems. "Feral" showcases the kind of post-dubstep backdrop that could easily have been supplied by Burial, with Yorke's cryptic and woozy wails flying in and out menacingly. The paranoid lurch of "Lotus Flower" and the percussive rattle and dark acoustic riffing of "Little By Little" help to create a more menacing feel. It's all incredibly experimental, the kind of territory that really, besides Thom Yorke's solo album "The Eraser," none of the members of the band have dabbled in since "Kid A."

The only times Radiohead return to the conventional are on "Codex" and "Giving up the ghost." The former is cold, bare and moving, simply comprising of a piano and Yorke's vocals with have an appropriate tint of desolation about them. The latter is a lush and sprawling acoustic floater, again Yorke's vocals given the woozy treatment of microphone effects and high pitched harmonies.

"The King Of limbs" is a masterpiece. When it's exploratory it's cold and dark, unnerving even. But all the while it's enticing and fervent. When the band stick to the conventional it just serves as a reminder of the Radiohead who can be comforting as well as frightening. At only 8 tracks long, it should leave you a little bit more wanting. But then, given the intelligence and beauty of this record, it should be more than enough for now.


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