Album Review

King of Limbs

King of Limbs

by Radiohead


Self Released
8.5 / 10
25th February

Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam


Radiohead took people by surprise with In Rainbows. And it wasn’t their marketing strategy, which appeared to take all the attention. For a band who had built their career via considerable earnestness, In Rainbows sounded like a band having fun. And for many, it almost matched the holy trinity of Radiohead albums – The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A. And as expected by a band who has never remained static throughout their career, the King of Limbs is another impressively idiosyncratic album. For a band who started way back in the early ‘90s, their continued commitment to refusing to settle themselves into a box is more than a little inspiring.

Radiohead choose their albums’ opening tracks particularly well. The King of Limbs is no different: ‘Bloom’ is a jittery, unhinged rhythmic cornucopia. The first half of the album follows this pattern – the bass and the drums dominate, with textures and polyrhythms far more prominent than melody. It becomes almost dance-able shoegazer music. Or, music that’s so dense it’s almost ambient. And it’s brilliant. ‘Morning Mister Magpie’ is similarly unpredictable, with a sinister Thom Yorke vocal performance to match the dark undercurrents of the music. The chugging rhythms and incredible production of ‘Little by Little’ is perhaps my highlight of the album. ‘Feral’ is ultra-minimal in comparison, as snatches of Yorke’s voice are paired with an almost dubstep-y rhythms and unsettling textures.

The album shifts following this, and the album moves into more conventional Radiohead territory. Though while that’s hardly a bad thing, it loses a bit of the danger the first half had. But at least the second half is backed up with some great, if slightly less interesting (in a relative sense), songs. ‘Lotus Flower’ sounded like single potential from the moment it’s played, perhaps because it pushed melody far more to the front than any the album’s previous songs. ‘Codex’ is a little ripper, one of those gorgeous ballads that Radiohead manage to include in all of their albums. Whereas Yorke’s voice previously was almost simply another layer, in ‘Codex’ Yorke’s voice soars above the understated instrumentation. ‘Give Up the Ghost’ features beautiful harmonies, a guitar (which had been hardly heard in its natural form, well not since In Rainbows), and an insistent call and response. It’s a slightly insipid melody, but the textures and the loops build up beautifully. ‘Separator’ is a little indifferent as a closer – its melody a little too unmemorable and not completely compensated by something else - and felt a little incongruous compared to everything else. But it’s another most excellent album by the band, and further proof that a band doesn’t necessarily have to mega-dull in order to be mega-successful.




Comments





Popular