Radiohead: the King of Secrets (an inflective album review)

King of Limbs album cover provided with the online download purchase.

Throughout the decades of varying sounds and musical tastes, there is something that keeps me coming back to Radiohead.  The aging band has a mystique, rarity and intelligence that only shines in one in a million.

Radiohead’s newest album, The King of Limbs, was released today, a day earlier than we all expected. This is the band’s eighth studio album and the second attempt to showcase the online-only debut.

I tend to fear listening to new Radiohead albums.  They have no problem venturing further than the limits of conventional music. Each record boldly goes light-years beyond the sound of their last album.  Every time they release a new album it seems as though it kills the absurdity of their previous work. This process of normalizing their music is such a thrill and I look forward to it every couple of years.

Like every new Radiohead album, there’s something unique about the release. At the moment, I cannot figure out what that uniqueness may be only after the preliminary screening of each track.  But what I do know is that the time timing is just right.

With only eight songs, the album clocks in at around 37 minutes long but it is a haunting sound track  that very well could piece together the mystery of some hazy neon night.

With the headphones/cans placed securely over my ears I am able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like picking out the sounds in a track. I take joy in isolating the random plucked strings on Greenwood’s guitar, the muted piano key reverberation, or even the singling out persistent short, sharp gasped whispers of Thom Yorke. I’m trying to make sense of this beautiful mess.

The album’s track list is as follows:

  • 1. Bloom  (5:15)
  • 2. Morning Mr. Magpie (4:41)
  • 3. Little by Little (4:27)
  • 4. Feral (3:13)
  • 5. Lotus Flower (5:00)
  • 6. Codex (4:47)
  • 7. Give Up The Ghost (4:50)
  • 8. Separator (5:20)

The album is a shape-shifter in the sense that each song is different from the last but, really, this is nothing new. Radiohead have been naturally progressing to this point for years but King of Limbs seems new and refreshing (at least to me).

I’m not one to run through an album, list off what each song sounds like and say why YOU should like it. But I will say that Give Up the Ghost is like a clearing in a dystopian wilderness of sound.

I have never been this pleased with one of Radiohead’s latest releases.

But what is the secret here? Radiohead is leaving something out again. There’s a bigger picture here….

…. isn’t there?

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6 responses to “Radiohead: the King of Secrets (an inflective album review)

  1. Well put. I wonder, though, is “distopian wilderness” an oxymoron?

  2. Good point about how each new album “normalises” the last. It’s definitely one of their best albums, but I tend to judge them (as I blogged earlier) on whether I find each song memorable, rather than what style it is.

  3. Now why would you review an album with 8 tracks on it. That seems like an awful waste of time spent on a washed up band.

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