Saturday, February 26, 2011

The King of Limbs

I had a friend ask me what I thought of Radiohead's new album, The King of Limbs recently, and I wanted to throw down my thoughts and open up a venue for fellow Radiohead-heads to discuss.

My initial impressions of The King of Limbs are generally warm. I like the album overall, especially for the percussion and great rhythms. I don't think it will be one of my favorite Radiohead works, but it's still decent listening. As is typical for Thom Yorke, he has a lot to say about love and personal dealings in relationships in this work. The album has a few strong songs, and I'm quite fond of "Little by Little" for its theme-capturing music. I love that the bass plods along almost like raindrops, and even the bulk of the guitar provides a relatively simple note-to-note riff that emphasizes the building up little by little to a breaking point. I also rather enjoy "Bloom," "Morning Mr. Magpie," "Lotus Flower," and "Separator" as a finale (love the dancing guitar highs in the middle half of the song), but the rest of the album is forgettable to me. "Feral" is a unfortunate waste of time on this already to0-short album. "Codex" basically hijacked the piano from "Pyramid Song" (Amnesiac), as if we wouldn't notice. A few brief moments are reminiscent of Sufjan Steven's Age of Adz (check intro to "Bloom"), but on the converse, I recall thinking that Age of Adz had Radiohead-like hues when I first listened to it as well.

I suppose it's natural to compare a band's music with its earlier albums. To that effect, I compare The King of Limbs to the B sides of Hail to the Theif. Like the second-half of Hail, with its soulfully melancholy, but less-memorable songs, The King of Limbs strikes me as an album I'll probably save for certain moods and will likely only skip to the songs I like. Hail is one of my favorite Radiohead albums because of how well it captured both the classic, rocking (more guitar-driven) Radiohead from Pablo Honey through OK Computer and the more electronic flavorings of Kid A and Amnesiac (which were both recorded at the same time, hence their tight musical kinship)*. I'm a Radiohead immigrant who didn't discover Radiohead until Kid A, so my assessment may seem skewed to a Radiohead purist who's been with them since the beginning. Radiohead has yet to fail in my book, but their last two albums haven't been as strong to me.

*If you're like me and you enjoyed the electronic albums (Kid A, Amnesiac), then check out Thom Yorke's solo album, Eraser. Solid beats, classic Thom vocals.

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