Review: Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs

Radiohead shocked the music world Monday by announcing out of nowhere they were releasing a new album, The King Of Limbs, online this weekend. Pop-Break guest columnist Brian Johnson has a review …

Radiohead
The King Of Limbs
Grade: 3 stars out of 5

For the first time in their career, Radiohead sounds complacent.

Not that this complacency means arguably the music industry’s most important band is becoming stale.

The British group’s eighth studio release, The King Of Limbs, is not a bad album — in fact, it’s quite pleasant. But you don’t walk away hearing a different Radiohead.

King might not be as melodic as their last album, In Rainbows, but the band stays on a similar melancholy groove throughout the second side of the record.

Instead of giving a vague review, let’s take a look at each track without sounding like a music hipster.

(Note: Radiohead albums tend to grow on with each spin, so please keep in mind this is a review after only three listens.)

1. Bloom
This is a track that starts with a piano loop, and boy, does it bring classic Radiohead atmosphere. Thom Yorke’s mumbled vocals come in out of nowhere, while Jonny Greenwood’s orchestration leaves the listener wanting more, just enough for the song to set the tone for the album.

2. Morning Mr. Magpie
This is the one song that sounds like a new Radiohead. The guitar work is refreshing and slams hard. The song moves continuously and never has a dull moment. It’s enticing enough to be my favorite track on the album.

3. Little By Little
Another favorite of mine. Phil Selway’s drums have a constant chug, while Greenwood’s guitars almost sound like you’re listening to the band on a trip to New Orleans. The chorus is catchy and haunting at the same time.

4. Feral
This song doesn’t sound like anything I haven’t heard on Kid A or Hail To The Thief.

5. Lotus Flower
The album’s first single is a great one. The bass loops are almost like something off Dark Side Of The Moon. Yorke’s vocals sound as clear as they were all over In Rainbows. And his dancing in the video is weird as hell:

6. Codex
This is a song that’s getting buzz from Radiohead fans. While the atmosphere is great and the ambiance and production are as clear and inviting as ever, the track does not deliver as much as “Pyramid Song,” “Videotape,” and other classic Radiohead piano ballads. Still, the song has enough to keep me listening. The horns are also settled in the background just enough.

7. Give Up The Ghost
This is almost a folk song. Other than that, nothing really sticks out besides Nigel Godrich’s always-solid production.

8. Separator
A forgettable way to close an album. It’s a gentle song that never really takes off. In fact, after three listens, I can’t tell you much about it.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

1 COMMENT

  1. While I agree with you on a lot of points after my first two listens, I think it’s too early to define this album.

    I’ll admit it wasn’t what I was expecting since both Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows started with crackly guitar-fused energy that isn’t there on this album. But the one thing that did struck me is the amount of depth there is to the music.

    I think there are a lot of layers that’ll unfurl themselves after multiple listens. Does that mean I’ll like what I find? Not necessarily. But I think it’s too early, 24 hours after release, to tell.

    I’m also not sure I agree with this not being a “different Radiohead.” The whole concept they embrace on the first half of the album, of taught, almost drum-and-bass or hip-hoppy drums laying the groundwork under a far looser melodic section isn’t something I’ve heard from them. There are some retreads, and the overall soundscape is distinct to them, but I think this has a different vibe than anything else they’ve released.

    All that said, I might end up agreeing with you. But for me, the jury’s still out.