Review Summary: Radiohead doesn't reinvent the wheel again, but should we still be expecting them to?
It has often confused me the amount of controversy and hype that surrounds every Radiohead release. Ever since the days of OK Computer and Kid A, people been longing for the next masterpiece the band would release. Everyone has over-praised the possibility of Radiohead releasing another genre defining album, but the chances of this are slim-to-none. The bands biggest creative phases and stylistic leaps were all made during the time between 1995's Brit-rock influenced "The Bends" and 2000's apocalyptic "Kid A". All albums post Kid A have been strangely too familiar in terms of "redefining" anything. "Amnesiac" consisted of a majority of songs that did not make Kid A and "Hail To The Thief" seemed like it lacked the focus and consistency that their earlier albums held. "In Rainbows" was a fresh breath of air as the band learned to mix their electronic elements while leaving room for plenty of guitars. Fast forward four years and only eight songs later, and we see Radiohead treading familiar ground yet again.
Attempting to avoid any pre-release hype, Radiohead revealed The King Of Limbs just days before it would drop and then releasing it one day earlier than that, leaving little time for fan-boys to banter about what direction the band would take this time. Unfortunately it has since been victim of criticisms of being too short, too abstract, rumors of not even being the "real" new album and even only being half of a finished product. Not to discredit "The King Of Limbs" so early in the game already though, it isn't deserving of all the rants of how it doesn't live up to earlier releases because in reality, it isn't suppose to.
Once again Radiohead have let sampling and electronics take the lead role on most songs. Surprisingly most of the new songs are danceable ("Lotus Flower", "Separator"). Not to say that guitars aren't present. Guitars appear on five out of the eight songs, but mostly lay low in the mix and are only that prominent on "Morning Mr. Magpie" and select parts of "Separator". "Codex makes for a nice piano ballad, but bares many resemblances to Amnesiacs "Pyramid Song". The minimalist "Give Up The Ghost" consist of various repeated samples of Thom Yorke's singing "Don't Hurt Me" over a lone acoustic guitar. The previously mentioned "Lotus Flower" and "Separator" serve as the albums best tracks, both containing Thom's signature goose bump-inducing falsetto's quietly floating over Phil Selway's grooving beats and are sadly over before you know it.
Unfortunately, the first half of the album doesn't quite make the great impression that the last half does. Many of the songs consist of the same beats or riffs for the entire song, occasionally introducing various horns and strings throughout. Opener "Bloom" is a perfect example of this. Based off a looping piano line and chopped up clips of Phil Selways drums, the song moves along with little to no interruption of these elements. "Morning Mr. Magpie" and "Little By Little" both fall to this use of repetition, dragging down the reply value of The King Of Limbs. "Feral" is a strange experimental track consisting of only beats and Thom Yorke's voice chopped up and randomly placed throughout, but ultimately comes off as filler. The King Of Limbs is nowhere near a bad album, it consist of some of Radioheads best tracks they have released post-Kid A. However, the dragging first half of the album is not anywhere near the quality of the last half and will leave many fans longing for more. The King Of Limbs is not Radiohead trying to reinvent the wheel, it is just them playing the music they want to; nothing more, nothing less.
Give Up The Ghost
don't exaggerate irving, there's only 21 others. and you carefully proofread at least half of them ;]
problematic stuff around incl:
1st paragraph you kinda contradict yourself about post kid a radiohead (+ sentences should read 'of OK Computer and Kid A, people have been' , 'band's biggest creative phases').
2nd paragraph is mostly unnecessary
3rd paragraph 1st sentence is a runon. and then i got bored of reading.
keep plugging away at reviewing, but try reviewing albums that haven't already been reviewed 21 over and over again so you can actually convey your own opinions and not say essentially what's already been said before
yea sorry that's not what i meant. mostly i'm a fanboy who's upset cause you said All albums post Kid A have been strangely too familiar in terms of "redefining" anything, but i guess there's a point to be made there.
I disagree, I think that stylistically there's a bigger difference between IR and this than there was between Amnesiac, HTTT and IR. I don't think that this album has been received badly (compared to other Radiohead releases) due to the band's failure to continue to evolve musically, but due to a lack of interest in the style of this record or simply because it has weaker material.
Not a bad review by any means, but nothing exciting or memorable about it. Could use a little pizazz. Especially when trying to stand out from 21 other reviews. Keep writing though, you ain't half bad.