Published on February 27th, 2011 | by greg0
Radiohead : The King of Limbs :: Review
By now, most people are hip to Radiohead’s stealthy marketing savvy. After announcing a new album, their eighth, “The King of Limbs” on Valentine’s Day and then releasing it four days later via their website, Radiohead seems to have scored a coup by getting folks to actively purchase and discuss their latest collection of songs. Radiohead and their marketing department can pat themselves on the back as “The King of Limbs,” while deserving of some hype is a fairly humdrum release sitting somewhere between “Amnesiac” and “Hail To The Thief” in Radiohead’s canon.
“The King of Limbs” has become a fairly divisive album as Radiohead fans have complained about its length and content. In the same breath, the same fans have scrutinized the lyrics to the final track, “Separator” and have concocted conspiracy theories about how the better half of the album will be released sometime in the future. Whether or not a second disc is forthcoming is anyone’s guess as Radiohead are a subversive and slippery lot but the fact remains that “The King of Limbs” is far from the stellar heights achieved on “In Rainbows.”
The first half of “The King of Limbs” feels like a spiritual successor to Thom Yorke’s solo output, “The Eraser” and his more recent work with Flying Lotus rather than a true band effort. “Bloom” opens the album with its insistent and claustrophobic rhythms although all it seems stuck in the mud and simply spinning its wheels. Yorke sounds almost bored and his vocals feel like there’s a weight on them amidst the strain of the overwhelming technology. Live staple “Morning Mr Magpie” is transformed into a glitchy attention starved track that gets strangled by the electronic tendrils that surround it. “Little By Little” arrives and although it features more traditional instrumentation, Yorke’s vocals suffocate a track that was meant to open the album up a bit. “Feral” is a track that only its creators could admire as the skittery electronics and dated bass test that provide its foundation only sound like filler to these ears.
Thankfully, the album finally seems to receive a reprieve with “Lotus Flower,” a track that follows a decipherable song structure and does not succumb to the electronic tendrils that almost consume it. The Neil Young inspired piano ballad, “Codex” follows and almost drowns the album in its own moroseness. A sampling of birds precedes “Give Up The Ghost” and while the song is somewhat spare, it’s also among the most innovative of the tracks that appear on “The King of Limbs.” “Separator” arrives like a mewling kitten to close the musical journey of “The King of Limbs.” The mysterious track ends with a cryptic refrain of “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong” which seems to fuel the endless debate currently occupying the minds of many music aficionados who probably should have better things to ponder. If there is another Radiohead outing in the near future, hopefully they bring the tunes.