Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

Rating: B

The King of Limbs is almost a paint-by-numbers Radiohead album.  That's a weird thing to say about the most inventive band of its generation, but they're not treading any new ground here.  There's beauty, and some groovy tunes, but none of the earth-shattering weirdness that's marked their going-on-twenty-years career.

Take "Codex."  It a gorgeous melodic tune arranged starkly, mostly just singer Thom Yorke's voice over piano chords.  Kinda like "Pyramid Song" from Amnesiac.  Or "Sail To the Moon" from Hail To the Thief  That's not to say it isn't a good tune.  It's one of the stronger tracks on the album.  But essentially it's a beautiful re-hash.

It's like that up and down the album.  Opener "Bloom" could slot easily on Hail To the Thief alongside "2 + 2 = 5."  "Little By Little," with its drum track and melodic bassline, would fit on Amnesiac right next to "Packd Like Sardines In a Crushed Tin Box."  The incoherent atmospheric vocals over the fast dance beat of "Feral" bring to mind "Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors" from that same album.

That said, there is no bad Radiohead.  Every moment in the album is drenched in luscious sound, and there are some brilliant moments: the backing sound dropping out in "Morning Mr. Magpie," leaving just Yorke's haunting voice before building back up; the opening creepy bass drones and background noises that open "Lotus Flower"; the gentle acoustic guitar in "Give Up the Ghost."  It's a Radiohead album, and even if it's not the most inventive of their efforts, it's still better than 99% of what's out there.

Radiohead official site

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