A King of Limbs Review, pt. 1

Radiohead’s King of Limbs came in with a bit more of a whisper than expected. The sudden announcement, the fast timetable for release, and then dropping the record unexpectedly a day early, led to a release with far less fanfare than the media explosion of In Rainbows. And being an obsessive worshipper of these mopey Brits, I wanted to be excited by this record, and then be completely fulfilled. Uh oh…sounds bad right?

Well, actually I love it.

Like so many others, I was surprised by the brevity and opacity (trying to be pretentious as possible, in honor of Thom). But like all Radiohead releases, it grows more interesting with every listen. The 1st half is loaded with electronic blips and crackles that are hard to penetrate at first listen…or tenth. But the second half invites you in. Made up of ballads and mid-tempo groovers, that’s the part that keeps you coming back. Lets start with the back half.

5. Lotus Flower (5/5)

My favorite…a groover with a very odd video of Thom dancing convulsively. The hand claps and danceable feel make it fun, but the lyrics really get me going here. The whole idea makes me think of “dancing when no one is looking”. That image alone, the idea of unfiltered joy with more than a little deviousness, resonates with me.

6. Codex (4.5/5)

I like this track, but want it to arrive somewhere. Not that I’m implying that it goes nowhere…only that I don’t feel like it fully arrives…the rambling sonics at the end felt too much like a comma. But there’s a calm in both the music and lyrics that finds a space where these Brit boys don’t often go.

7. Give Up the Ghost (3.5/5)

Like “House of Cards”, some people will probably think this is an instant classic, while I find it dull. Its a perfectly acceptable song, but one that just passes time between two much more interesting tracks. A simple set of chords, a droning background vocal and a melody about wanting to die in someone’s arms somehow comes across a bit sappy. I’ll still hear it all the time though…it’s sandwiched between Codex and…

8. Separator (5/5)

I can’t wait to hear/see this live. This track is repetitive like Track 7, but unfolds in a much more interesting way. There’s the strangely-bright hi-hat snare pattern opening the tune which gives way to a soul-tinged melody. And then the ear candy comes in. When Thom croons “If you think this is over then you’re wrong” it lifts the whole tune up. Gotta be the Major 7th… From that point on, its all about intricate layering. Fascinating to hear it develop.

About that 1st half…

The first 4 tracks are a lot more challenging. I refuse to pass judgment, as every listen is changing for me. If I ever figure them out, I’ll come back to these. For now, I’m going to do something rare – not voice my opinion too strongly. 🙂

And to Wicked Children fans, I’ve started writing again. Look for some new performances later in the year.

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