REVIEW: Radiohead – “The King Of Limbs”

Radiohead / The King Of Limbs / Self-Released

Take a bird-filled grove of trees and in it, place a dryer. In that dryer, place a bag full of bricks and shoes. Turn it on as you signal someone to call your cell phone, but don’t answer it – so it keeps ringing. What you are now hearing is roughly equivalent to the opening track on Radiohead’s The King of Limbs. “Bloom” is a surprising choice for an opening track, but it doesn’t stand alone on an album proven to be chock full of surprises for fans and critics alike. Take “Feral” for example, which, in some of its opening warbles, makes the most experimental moments of Kid A sound positively conformist in comparison. On top of an exuberant beat, Colin Greenwood spends a few bars tuning up his bass while elsewhere members of the band seem to be noodling on some of the woodwinds, synthesizers and spare drums lying around the studio. When they’ve all settled into their rhythms, the essentially instrumental track leaves a lasting impression that flows into the ballad “Lotus Flower”.

While Thom’s falsettos turn up frequently here, they don’t carry as much weight as in the past – perhaps due to the equally plentiful samples and loops. The heart of the album is in the two tracks following the single, on which Thom uses (mostly) clear The Bends­-era vocals – and the emotional peak comes during the trumpet flourish midway through “Codex”. “Lotus Flower” and “Little By Little” both sound like they might have fit in as groovier, toned down B-Sides on In Rainbows. The fact these are not B-Sides on The King of Limbs – and “Lotus Flower” is the lead single – illustrates just how different the two albums are.

Download: “Separator”, “Codex”

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