Radiohead

The King of Limbs

Ticker Tape/XL/TBD

Feb 25, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The King of Limbs opens with a snappy, off-kilter drumbeat, call-and-response electronics, and then Thom Yorke singing, “Open your mouth wide.” One minute into “Bloom” and the band’s first new album in four years, and the expectations could not be higher. And then… the beat continues, the electronics pulse on, and Yorke occasionally dips his toes in with a few lines here and there. “Bloom” never reaches the astounding heights Radiohead has become known for, but then again, neither does The King of Limbs.

Over the course of a tidy eight tracks that clock in under 40 minutes, Radiohead sounds like, well, Radiohead. It’s a sturdy collection of songs, with the band in fine form, as always. This would all be fine, but the biggest change, even from In Rainbows, which was the sound of the band holding steady for the first time in their dynamic career, is that nothing pops out about The King of Limbs. None of the songs immediately jump to the forefront and demand to be replayed. Nothing here makes the jaw drop. Or even sag.

The King of Limbs is a much less aggressive record than In Rainbows. It’s quieter, closer to The Bends than OK Computer. The pop sensibility is almost entirely missing, however. “Give up the Ghost,” a contemplative strummer where the backing vocals are repeated and flattened until they sound almost like horns, doesn’t pack the emotional punch that won Yorke a legion of devoted fans. It’s the kind of tune he usually kills.

The album closing “Separator” comes closest to immediate gratification with Phil Selway providing the album’s best beat and some fine, taut guitar work. “Separator” also opens up towards the end, and the electronic skies part to allow some sun shine through, and Yorke’s vocals drift in, “Wake me up/Wake me up.” It’s beautiful, and one of the rare releases the album provides.

There are surely treasures to be found in The King of Limbs, as the listens pile up, so does the expectation for a short Jonny Greenwood ascending guitar phrase or a rapid click of the cymbals by Selway. However, the initial awe is simply not there, and the love-at-first-listen isn’t either. This relationship may grow into something, but it will never be the explosive obsession of Kid A or OK Computer or Hail to the Thief. (www.radiohead.com)

 

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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jkap123
February 26th 2011
6:26pm

mediocre - kind of sterile, without any ups or downs- good background music, for riding an elevator or sleeping

Mike
March 6th 2011
12:28am

Accurate review. This is tuneless dirge.