Review Summary: Radiohead's most personal and dysfunctional record brings us closer to the band than any other Radiohead record has allowed.
When I think of Pablo Honey, I think of a band thrust into the spotlight through a single, brutally honest song. When I think of The Bends, I think of a band that married pain and suffering to an army of angry guitars. When I think of OK Computer, I think of a band that raged inside their own technology-dominated world, and when I think of Kid A, I think of that band finding beauty and emotion in that world. When I think of Amnesiac, I think of a band that taunted and jeered at it's critics as it hammered its own gospel on an old Baby Grand, when I think of Hail to the Thief I think of a band splaying out their ideas and delusions of grandeur in a maelstrom of complexity, and when I think of In Rainbows I think of a band who was ready to acknowledge that they were still human beings who DID like catchy riffs and danceable beats.
When I think of The King of Limbs I think of Radiohead.
The King of Limbs does what he pleases. He does not care about his subjects, he does not care about his rivals. He makes the forest break out into a marvelous, sudden Bloom not for anyone, but because he can. He says Good Morning to Mr. Magpie only to see a thief tremble at his power. He shuffles Little By Little through careless romances with the subjects of his choosing, he watches the wounded, starving animals go Feral as he holds back the antidote. He is cruel, uncaring, and he does not want to change.
The King of Limbs is wounded and awed by beauty. He can gain only a limited near-mechanical joy from the marvelous and fragile opening of the Lotus Flower. He hears only part of the endlessly complex unwinding of the Codex in the night sky. He hears the whispers of his sons and daughters as the Give Up the Ghost, and although he almost feels a connection with them as he himself withers, he does nothing. The King of Limbs sees the vast realm of the regret for what he has not done in the past and what he will not do in the future, this sight a Separator between himself and world surrounding him, strangling the emotions hidden in his great body before they rise to the surface through his actions.
Radiohead's albums usually bring us to worlds we can never imagine ourselves.
They have finally released an album that brings us closer to a band so much larger than life that we thought we could never really know them.
It is not a question of 'good music.' It's simply the question, do you like Radiohead"