Review: “The King of Limbs,” Radiohead

Radiohead, the English alt-rock outfit, abruptly released their new album The King Of Limbs last Friday, just a little less than a week after anyone knew it even existed. Without the typical big pre-release hype, the album seems to have become an “event” with the usual suspects scrambling to offer their reviews, reactions and rejoinders.

That wouldn’t be me: this is the first Radiohead album I’ve had the privilege to hear, having ignored all of the hype surrounding In Rainbows back in 2007 (pre-blogging days). My take on The King Of Limbs is that it’s a fairly straightforward album by a band known for its sometimes obtuse approaches, and it offers enough interest and variety while giving long-time fans (presumably) more of the same they’ve come to know and love.

“Lotus Flower,” the first single, is accessible enough to be accompanied by a video (see below) and it’s got some of the album’s best vocals from Thom Yorke. Kind of like Coldplay slowed down a notch, you know? “Little By Little” perhaps relies less on electronics than any other song from the album, with Jonny Greenwood’s guitars driving this little foray into the sunlight.

“Bloom,” the album opener, promises some dark moods even though the song is beautiful; “Morning Mr. Magpie,” which follows, delivers with its sinister, uneasy almost African beat. The album comes to a premature close with a trifeca of hope, delivered by “Codex,” “Give Up The Ghost” and “Separator.”

And it does seem premature – The King Of Limbs is all of about 37 minutes long and while it didn’t exactly have me ravenously wanting more, it piqued my interest enough to inspire me to seek out Radiohead’s past efforts. This new album may not be the band’s best, but it may be their most forward-looking: surely Brian Eno and U2 are listening.

YouTube: “Lotus Flower”

Dead Air Space – Radiohead official website

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