Review Summary: The King of Limbs is Radiohead's most mediocre piece of work to date and is separating their fan base even further apart.
Radiohead were arguably one of the best alternate rock bands in their era. That's a big statement, I know, but their discography can back it up. Well, at least partly. There's a slight difference between "good" and "amazing" artists. Good artists feel the need to evolve whereas amazing artists perceive the evolving of their sound as a natural progression. Radiohead were an amazing band up until 2003, then something went terribly wrong. The King of Limbs is singlehandedly ruining their legacy. Another big statement, but I'll try to be as objective as possible in explaining why I feel this way (and why you should probably too).
The funniest thing I've heard about this album was the following quote: "It's a grower. Trust me." (well, that's the funniest thing at least up until now; I'm sure Pitchfork will supply a fair amount of pretentious and bizarre statements, related, but not limited to, The King of Limbs, before crowning it "the best album ever made. Period.").
A "grower" can mean two of the following things, when it comes to music: firstly, a record is a grower when initially grabs your attention, but you don't find it good or proper right away; you come back for more, because there is that special something in what you hear, but can't quite distinctively define it. Secondly, a record is defined as a grower, when there's a big name behind it and you feel like you should "get it", "like it", "love it" and you feel ashamed for not being able to say so and you're not ready to publically express your disappointment, because you don't want to seem "dumb" or "stupid" for not "getting it".
Where does that leave The King of Limbs" Well, it's subjective, of course. Everything is, when it comes to music, I know. But there's a fine line between the first and second definition for a "grower" and it can quickly change meanings from first to latter. That's where the band name comes into play or question. Would you cut an unknown band ever so much slack, to call their debut a "grower"" I honestly don't think so. In today's flood of new music, there's literally no room for mediocre. No, there is none and it's been this way since the rise of internet and piracy. With that, there's also no room for growers. There are literally hundreds of new albums coming out *daily*. So, to call something a grower, to give something repeatedly more chances to impress you, that's more like a prestige status, exception, than a common thing to do. Radiohead are a "grower" merely because of Creep, High and Dry, Street Spirit, Just, Paranoid Android etc. etc.
So, about The King of Limbs, here's the deal: I've read somewhere (for the love of God I can't remember where) that they described their evolution as "what were guitars in 90s, are now percussions"; the rhythm section is supposedly more forward, more out there, more an emphases on, more sticking out. Yeah, that's nothing new if you ever listened to "In Rainbows". Indeed, The King of Limbs feels like a B-side of "In Rainbows". A recycled bunch of tracks, remixed to get a new vibe. Sadly, their percussion section is nothing special, nothing above average and certainly nothing as memorable as their guitar work was in 90s. It's an average "easy listening" kind of album, that rolls in the background and you barely pay attention to it. Not once will you jump out of your seat and scream "HOLY SH*T, THIS IS AMAZING! I HAVE TO HEAR IT AGAIN OR MY EARS WILL RESENT ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!".
Their first single, "Lotus Flower", is sustained only by the repetitive drums, beats and bass, occasionally blessed with Yorke's amazing voice. A concept, Radiohead has been focusing on "In Rainbows", too. But, as with their previous effort, it's nothing ground breaking. There are at least a billion artists who can manage the "drums, beats and bass" way better than Radiohead. Yet, there are only a handful of artists, capable of mimicking the distinctive vibe and mood of "Street Spirit". I hope you get what I mean. But all is not lost, there's a live version of "Lotus Flower", which is performed only by a guitar and a voice, all provided by yours dearly, Thom Yorke (see the video on http://www.youtube.com/watch"v=uJdQRk3CukM). This live version is, however, a grower in a right and proper meaning of the word. Why did they choose to experiment and swim into unknown territories, where they achieved but an average song, is beyond me.
The only song that truly sticks out is "Codex", but it feels so damn abstract. It could be more, it could be great, but it just stays there, down with the weak, unfinished, recycled. Actually, I could say the same about the "Give up the Ghost", too. It's there, you can almost hear it, but you just can't lose that taste of being unfinished. It feels much more like a demo, an idea than a finished song. I suppose that could be said for the whole The King of Limbs.
Oh, yeah, speaking of abstract and unfinished: the video for "Lotus Flower" is so disgustingly shallow, empty and unnecessary it almost hurts. Well, at least Thom Yorke's dancing is becoming a meme (Don't believe me" Check for yourself: http://dancingthom.tumblr.com/). So I can't say there's nothing *good* about this album; at least we're getting a couple of laughs.
In a nutshell: The King of Limbs is forgettable, uninspired, recycled and unnecessary. Hate me all you want, but if you feel this album is a grower, you're almost agreeing with me. And remember, you're free to have your own opinion.
|other reviews of this album|
conradtao EMERITUS (3)
Electric City EMERITUS (4.5)
What if you heard a Radiohead album without knowing it was a Radiohead album?...
Iai EMERITUS (3.5)
Radiohead revisit their weakest albums and sharpen them up to gold standard....
Taking a lighter tone than we've ever seen, Radiohead delivers something as unexpected as ...
Radiohead goes, pardon the pun, out on a limb with their newest release....
King of Limbs is another sharp left turn from the band who you thought had none left. A fe...
The band that defined the noughties at their onset return at the beginning of the new deca...
Radiohead doesn't reinvent the wheel again, but should we still be expecting them to?...
Radiohead has never had trouble drumming up excitement for their music; whether or not the...
Siphoning a sort of strange beauty from a glacial approach, "The King of Limbs" is riddled...
A polite and clinical exercise...
Don't blow your mind with why....
On their eighth album, Radiohead take a slightly different angle, crafting a more divergen...
Radiohead - Surprise!!!; Us - Oh, what? I wasn't expecting that....; Radiohead - We know, ...
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Smell The Cheese (2)
Digging: Summoning - With Doom We Come
Album Rating: 3.5
this is a grower trust me
Album Rating: 2.5
this review isn't
Interesting review. Definitely well written. But your judgement of this album after its 36 hours of release seems to contradict your very concept for a "grower." An album that grows on you can come in many different forms, not just the two you have mentioned here. There are also albums that you listen to initially and have the exact reaction that you have had to this album, namely: uninspired, not as good as their previous efforts, boring etc. But, given time, certain albums like that can also turn out to be growers and you just didn't give it the chance it deserved.
Yes, I know what you're about to say.. "The only reason people are giving this the 'chance it deserves' is because its written by Radiohead and if it were a debut by an unknown band no one would like it." You would be correct. People will give this more chances simply because it is Radiohead.. its inevitable. BUT: that in itself doesn't mean this album can't be a grower. For example, lets say this album had been released by an unknown band and everyone listened to it once, didn't like it as you suggest, and moved on. That isn't proof that the album wasn't it grower, it is proof that people should give albums more of a chance after their first listen because they might not be allowing it time to really determine if it is a grower or not.
My overall point is that, it really isn't possible to determine if this is a grower or not because time is absolutely required for something like that. I'm not defending this album or attacking you because of your rating.. I'm merely just trying to point out that even initial reactions of "this is boring and uninspired" can change into love and affection given time. Sure, it doesn't happen often, but your limited definition of what a grower can and can't leave albums like that out of the picture, and there simply hasn't been enough time to determine exactly what this album is yet.
Also, why make a new account just to post a review like this. Who cares if people disagree with you? If you believe in your opinions and this is how you honestly feel, why post it anonymously? Just a thought. Good review though honestly, you're a good writer. I just feel like your judgement on the album is inherently untimely that's all.
Album Rating: 4.5
lol, with a username like that, you KNOW this guy has good tastes...
Album Rating: 4.0
"Where does that leave The King of Limbs? Well, it's subjective, of course. Everything is, when it comes to music, I know."
Hahahaha, you don't know very much about music criticism do you?
The review kinda sucks but it's pretty on-point as far as the music goes.
Album Rating: 4.0
I mostly agree. I think after four years and all the hype, this album is incredibly underwhelming and rather pedestrian.
Album Rating: 3.0
The main problem with this review is that its main point seems to be "waahh Radiohead aren't making The Bends and OK Computer anymore". That's not so much an invalid approach as it is a decidedly biased one.
Album Rating: 2.0
I would like to thank Kubrick, Deder545 and conradtao for their constructive criticism as opposed from
the rest of "you suck lol who are you really" blah, blah.
conradtao I suppose you're right. When I hear "Radiohead" I recall their earlier, more decisive work.
What they did with last two albums was experimenting. There's nothing wrong with that if it's done
right, but I feel like they're experimenting for the sake of the experiment itself, it doesn't come
I love what Sufjan Stevens has done with The Age of Adz. It feels more natural, real and finished,
whereas Radiohead's work is left "in the making" and more abstract.
Not their worst it might be better than the last 3 albums (not that that is saying much), Lotus Flower is something different at least. Average kind of album.
Album Rating: 4.0
oh. okay, otaku. came to blow off some steam i see
Oh, yeah, speaking of abstract and unfinished: the video for "Lotus Flower" is so disgustingly shallow
you ramble too much
It's an average "easy listening" kind of album, that rolls in the background and you barely pay attention to it. Not once will you jump out of your seat and scream "HOLY SH*T, THIS IS AMAZING! I HAVE TO HEAR IT AGAIN OR MY EARS WILL RESENT ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!".
So this is basically your argument against it. It's a chill album, you went in expecting to be blown away, and didn't get blown away. Then after a couple days you've decided that it isn't a grower. Kinda like I did with Kid A after the first couple of days... until I discovered that radiohead doesn't work that way.
I enjoyed reading this, even though Kubrick is spot on in his comment. Also tend to agree with the term "prestige status" when it comes to certain bands, though it's music and people are always going to have favorites no matter what happens. CelestialDust also has a point about the "rambling" but I don't feel like it hurts the review in the grand scheme of things, no what hurts the review for most is the rating.
Album Rating: 4.5
I don't have a problem with you disliking the record, even though it's actually amazing, but this isn't a great review I don't think.
You don't talk very much about the music in the negative sense other than the lack of guitar, which isn't really much of a criticism to use against Radiohead seeing as they haven't been a proper 'guitar band' for a long time now.
The idea of including YouTube links in a review btw...kinda sucks as well.
I don't think Kid A was a chill album, and I liked it pretty much straight away.
Album Rating: 3.5
Pretty awful review. You ramble like crazy and don't sound confident when presenting your points. Also you throw a lot of unnecessary shit in, like the youtube and tumblr links.
Oh, yeah, speaking of abstract and unfinished: the video for "Lotus Flower" is so disgustingly shallow, empty and unnecessary it almost hurts. Well, at least Thom Yorke's dancing is becoming a meme (Don't believe me? Check for yourself: http://dancingthom.tumblr.com/). So I can't say there's nothing *good* about this album; at least we're getting a couple of laughs.
What were you thinking? Delete this.
Album Rating: 2.0
Half-assed review for a boring album
Album Rating: 2.0
bodiesinflight57 thanks for your reply. If you've managed to sum my criticism to merely "lack of guitar" I suggest you actually read the whole thing.
Album Rating: 2.5
It just seems absolutely fucking retarded that so many people think they can write with any authority about an album they heard about a day ago.
i still don't even know what to rate it