Radiohead
The King of Limbs: From the Basement


4.5
superb

Review

by IronGiant USER (14 Reviews)
January 13th, 2014 | 160 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The way King of Limbs deserves to be heard

It's freezing outside. You're dressed in a thin swim suit and starting to feel what you believe whole-heartedly is Stage 1 hypothermia. "Why am I here?" you keep asking yourself every 5 seconds like clockwork. Then you look up and see her. She's dressed in that new bikini she was telling you about and smiling at you warmly, melting away those fears and insecurities you had a short while ago. "Oh yeah, that's why" you admit to yourself silently before you grab her hand and plunge feet first into the pool. You were right. It's cold. But then why aren't you upset? Why did you stay in the pool with her, talking for an hour instead of getting out and going back to your warm house? Again she looks at you with eyes that dare you to abandon her, but instead you two stay out there beneath the moon that cold winter night, anticipating something better so long as you just stick it out for a little while longer.

The King of Limbs, Radiohead's 9th studio album, was a step in the electronic-based direction they introduced back in 2000 on Kid A and explored further on Amnesiac as well as briefly on Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows. Here, they chose to embrace influences like Kraftwek, Neu, and Flying Lotus more so than Can and Talk Talk, although elements of the latter two can still be heard on songs such as "Little by Little" and "Lotus Flower".

TKOL: From the Basement showcases the original eight tracks from TKOL as well as two additional tracks, "The Daily Mail" (named after the British newspaper) and "Staircase" (named after the construction design that connects two places bridged by a vertical distance) all in a live setting. The songs don't deviate too far away from their album versions and each contain snippets of the band and Nigel Godrich (the band's producer and longtime friend) joking around and talking with one another. While these excerpts bolster the live experience of TKOL: From the Basement, they ultimately deter from the songs themselves, and you'll often find yourself skipping to the next song immediately after the one before is done.

What makes this live album so much more enjoyable than the studio version is the band's instrumental chops: it's amazing to hear the band replicate all the blips and bloops of the studio album in a live setting. The attention to detail is phenomenal: the first real track,"Bloom" contains every electronic flourish as on the studio album, all concocted by real instruments by the band-mates themselves. Another plus of the live version of TKOL is how organic everything sounds. "Give Up the Ghost", the haunting folk-like closer of the album, contains even more emotion than its studio counterpart, and creates a depth and substance that was unfortunately absent on the original. "Codex", a piano-driven ballad akin to "Pyramid Song" and "Karma Police", is just as beautiful, if not more so, than its album version; Thom's voice soars beautifully over the piano chords around the two minute mark atop of a sustained guitar note and is truly a highlight of the album. You can actually hear Johnny's fingers moving frantically on the fretboard in the skittish "Good Morning Mr. Magpie" which helps remind us that the band hasn't completely jettison their organic instrumentation roots.

The only minor blemish of the album seems to be "Feral", the Four Tet-influenced track, which sounds just as unorganized and lifeless as its original version. The track is only three and a half minutes but seems to drag for five or six.

Ultimately, TKOL: From the Basement is a haunting "fly-on-the-wall" look at a band that has been turning out consistently strong material for over a decade. It trumps its studio counterpart by being able to successfully convey the emotion the original so desperately tried to but was instead muddied by over-production. From the Basement also gives the band an outlet to showcase their musical prowess in a live setting which was again somewhat muffled for the same reasons on the studio release. If you were apprehensive about TKOL, this album will convert you into a believer. And it only gets better each listen: there is always a new detail or layer to rear its head each spin, dramatically increasing replay value.

Radiohead continue to push the boundaries of music by proving that lightning can strike twice (or three times in Radiohead's case) for a band that commits to writing music that they enjoy playing as much as we the audience enjoy listening to. Thom, Johnny, Ed, Phil, Colin, and Clive (drummer for Portishead that contributes live) have created yet another well-crafted album that manages to beat out its studio duplicate by offering a warm, pleasant, and fun listening experience.

This was the way TKOL was meant to be heard. This is the way TKOL deserves to be heard.



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user ratings (132)
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4.4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
IronGiant
January 12th 2014


855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hope you guys enjoy my first review! wanted my first to be an album that I loved. I was shocked no one has reviewed this yet with all the Radiohead fans there seem to be on this site. any feedback, good or bad, is appreciated. thank you for reading!

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2014


6269 Comments


Welcome to Sputnik! This is a great review for a first, nice work! Very well-written and made for an interesting read. Only thing is, and I might just be dull or something, but I'm not 100% sure how the first paragraph correlates with the rest of the review.

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

StallionMang
January 12th 2014


5831 Comments


Was pretty confused by the 1st paragraph, but other than that, superb first review

Digging: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

ethos
January 12th 2014


1833 Comments


first paragraph owns

tommygun
January 12th 2014


24989 Comments


didn't read pos

ethos
January 12th 2014


1833 Comments


same hard pos actually was the first pos so hot wheels beat that

tommygun
January 12th 2014


24989 Comments


pos first ask questions l8er

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2014


1675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet review!

avonbarksdale221
January 13th 2014


8247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, but I have to reiterate what others have already said and ask what the point of the first paragraph was? Not that it wasn't well written, just (seemingly) completely unrelated.

Rowan5215
January 13th 2014


27199 Comments


You just don' UNDERSTAND avon
You cannot COMPREHEND

Digging: Vestascension - Breaching the Sound

tommygun
January 13th 2014


24989 Comments


it's about being led on by swimmer girl duh

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2014


4443 Comments


The review itself, I think it is pretty decent. I disagree in your opinion about "Feral" because I absolutely love both versions. "Morning Mr. Magpie" was definitely better in here than in the studio version, for me at least. The guitar playing is so much intense and catchy, but I still love the original too. While I can see why you think this version is better, I can't say I agree. I think it's more energetic and perhaps that makes it more fun as a listen, but I feel the "dreary/feels like your walking through a cold misty forest" kind of atmosphere that the studio version depicts throughout makes for a more compelling listen. But that's just me.

unaMUSEd
January 13th 2014


1104 Comments


Great review but what is that first paragraph

off-topic: do i have to be staff to get my gif avi to actually move?

Digging: Memphis May Fire - Challenger

BigPleb
January 13th 2014


37123 Comments


Rules so fucking hard.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins on Io

tommygun
January 13th 2014


24989 Comments


rules dick agreed

Rowan5215
January 13th 2014


27199 Comments


Give up the Ghost on this is just beyond

BigPleb
January 13th 2014


37123 Comments


Bloom sounds incredible.

Rowan5215
January 13th 2014


27199 Comments


Ofc it does

BigPleb
January 13th 2014


37123 Comments


Morning Mr Magpie is still mt fave off TKOL, dat guitar loop.

Rowan5215
January 13th 2014


27199 Comments


Damn that's my least favourite haha
Thom sounds bored as fuck on it



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