Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Release date: February 18, 2011
Label: Self-released

Tracklist:

  1. Bloom
  2. Morning Mr. Magpie
  3. Little by Little
  4. Feral
  5. Lotus Flower
  6. Codex
  7. Give Up the Ghost
  8. Separator

Radiohead’s eighth studio album, The King of Limbs sounds like a continuation of what was started with 2007’s In Rainbows, only much more electronic and much less like old Radiohead. It is more approachable than previous Radiohead albums, yet it is abstract, enigmatic and complex. It starts off with Bloom, a slow, progressive piano tune, with plenty of layers and effects that would give James Blake a run for his money. The album continues on into a sonically spacious, mellow and meditative experience, which is as far away from the harshness of The Bends and the grunge of Pablo Honey as it can possibly be, but true to Radiohead’s artistically challenging essence.

Dark and atmospheric, Radiohead’s The King of Limbs is a rather confusing enterprise. It evokes shadows in a peaceful and calm manner, much different from the haunting ghosts present in their previous releases. It is flowy, beautiful and lyrically charged, providing a rather special and unique experience for the listener. It has everything – from dreamy and rather upbeat tunes like Separator and the first single Lotus Flower, to dramatic ballads like Codex.  It is well executed; rhythmically balancing human sensibility with machine beats and programmed sounds. Yes, this is not old Radiohead. The essence of it, however, is still intact. That harmony between instruments and human voice, strong basslines and eerie, fragile vocals is still there, and in this new setting, it works just fine.

I understand some Radiohead fans might not be pleased with Thom Yorke’s foray into the post-dubstep world, and ordinarily, neither would I. The album haunts you, however, to a point where you find it exquisite and natural.  Fans of post-Nirvana Radiohead might not be too fond of this album, but Burial lovers would definitely enjoy it. As for me, I have learned to appreciate it, despite my disappointment. This is the new direction they’ve taken, and it is here to stay.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Preview on Xiami.com | Like it? Buy the album on Amazon.com

by Gabriela Salgado

5 Responses

  1. Camiele White says:

    Something that many diehard lovers of Radiohead (or any band that’s been the prototype for a particularly intelligent sound) will understand the directional shift in terms of how technology is used in the band’s music. I think those too staunch in their understanding of the musical landscape will have a hard time with this, they’ll be challenged. However, isn’t that the point of cerebral music –to challenge and enlighten? I find the same thing occurs with fans of Jamriquai. Jay Kay had the foresight to understand the necessity to incorporate and embrace technology as a means to polish the music and give it wider depth while still managing to stay true to the band’s overall style and feeling. Thom Yorke succeeds in that aspect beautifully with this album.

    Great review, by the way. You make a very good point about the melodic tapestry of Radiohead staying intact. I pretty much heard “Lotus Flower” and was sold. I need to check out more of the album, but I think this is a gem from a band I’ve always admired :)

  2. Giacomo says:

    Fantastic. Have you heard the Thom Yorke/Burial collab?

  3. You mean Mirror/Ego? Yeah, I thought it was pretty good and fun. Of course, that is more Burial than Radiohead, but still. Thom Yorke’s voice sounded great with all that dubstep.

  1. March 21, 2011

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