Saturday, February 19, 2011

The King Of Limbs :::: Radiohead

     Over the years Radiohead has built such a vast and devoted cult following that their new album releases are easily among the most highly anticipated in the world. They're also developing a reputation for being music magicians when it comes to announcing their new albums. The announcement of In Rainbows, Radiohead's 2007 release, was mysteriously preceded by short messages on their website, which included X's in the text, ten days before the album's release day of October 10th. Their latest release was an even deeper kept secret and a major surprise when they suddenly posted a Valentine's Day message on their website simply reading "Thank You For Waiting", which was a link to another website where the grand announcement of Radiohead's new album, The King Of Limbs, was adorned with two options to purchase, as well as news that, if purchased, the buyer will be able to download the album in it's entirety a prompt 5 days later on February 19th! The surprise just got sweeter when the link to download went live a day early!
     So what does such a progressively creative and innovative band do to follow its own arguably perfect previous album? Radiohead tends to musically answer this question with "something different!". The King Of Limbs (tKoL) follows the band's trend in slightly tweaking their sound from one album to the next. Of course, for the most part, the songs still sound like the Radiohead we've all come to love and obsess over.
     The first two tracks off tKoL sound like they could be (and for all we know might be) B-sides from Thom Yorke's 2006 solo record The Eraser. Track 2 especially, "Morning Mr Magpie" shares the same sort of guitar tone used on that album.  Obviously this is completely appropriate and just reaffirms how much Yorke has a hand in writing the songs in Radiohead. This point was actually perceived in the inverse situation, realizing Yorke's influence on Radiohead upon hearing The Eraser. That point aside, track 1, "Bloom", and 2, "Morning Mr Magpie", will surely begin the hypnotism process that comes with listening to brand new Radiohead music. They subdue listeners to that perfect state of consciousness where you're relaxed and ready for anything. Perfect timing for track 3, "Little By Little". This is one of those Radiohead songs that have that suave affect, almost making the listener feel cool from the smooth, but intricate beat, accompanied by some mellow, but bold guitar riffs and all topped off with Thom Yorke's ethereal vocals. A couple tracks later we reach what i suppose would be considered the single from tKoL, "Lotus Flower". If you weren't completely in a trance yet this one should put you over the top. The verses are a soft sort of funk that will make you wiggle and the choruses are sweet enough to bring tears to some. The following couple tracks slow the pace down, "Codex" involving some of Yorke's soft piano playing to accentuate his beautiful voice and "Give Up The Ghost" which is just him, his guitar, and his own sampled voice on an infectious loop. It sounds like it would make a great last impression song but Radiohead hits you with one more fun, upbeat song with classic Phil Selway drums, twinkling guitars and Colin's playful, rhythmic bass.
     Overall i would say The King Of Limbs is a calming and even-keel experience. The songs don't tend to build to intense extremes as some of Radiohead's past songs may have, nor would i classify any of them as "fast", however, every one of them is a masterpiece of pure musical beauty. If I had to make a comparison to a previous Radiohead album I would say the songs most closely relate to the album Amnesiac, but the likeness is only small reminders in select songs. Radiohead successfully reinvent themselves with every new record and, at the same time, sound unique to their own signature sound. My only complaint is that there are only a total of 8 tracks on The King Of Limbs. Here's hoping these magicians of music surprise us with more euphoric tunes very soon.

Favorite Tracks: Little By Little, Lotus Flower, Codex

1 comment: