“I think I’ve had my fill… / In your arms / (Don’t hurt me…) / (Don’t hurt me…) ”
I seriously doubt that you are likely too clueless about Radiohead if you are reading this review right now; but, just in case, we’re talking about one of the most influential bands of our time here. Radiohead has been churning out opus after magnum opus for the past twenty-five years, including 2007’s brilliant musical masterpiece In Rainbows.
But now, it seems the UK-based quintet has hit a bit of a speed-bump.
The King of Limbs, the band’s second self-released album after leaving EMI Records a few years ago, is not quite a magnum opus.
Granted, there are some brilliant moments here, but there are also some simply awkward moments, too. Brilliantly speaking, “Morning Mr. Magpie,” “Little by Little,” and “Codex” boast mind-bending time signatures, novel guitar part components, and some potent melodies to boot. Additional highlight “Lotus Flower” is the only composition that even vaguely resembles the sound/style of the In Rainbows era, though its groove is noticeably more stylized and ambient. In the awkward department, we’re looking at mainly “Bloom” and “Feral,” two vocally-based songs with the most unorthodox harmony possibly ever in the current Radiohead catalogue. And while this sounds kind of “neat,” per say, it is actually not entirely appetizing and is hardly accessible.
Now, some fans could likely gloss over the “awkward” in favor of the “brilliant,” and that is certainly one way to look at it.
But we’re also looking at a mere eight songs. I would understand ten, or perhaps nine. But eight? An eight-song set says, “After four years, this is all we can come up with for our religiously faithful fans. Eight experimental whatever’s.” And the band is still treating this eight-song release as if it were a full album, charging $9 for MP3’s and $14 for the vinyl, which I find a bit much. But I digress..
Though The King of Limbs is definitely dissatisfying in some areas, the worst Radiohead album is still better than most other bands’ greatest releases, though this is really the only defense that can be given in Radiohead’s favor at this point. Perhaps Radiohead has more in store for the 2011 year. One can only hope.
82% / B- ♭