23 February 2011
by Jon Wright
Jon Wright is a singer-songwriter and journalist based in Lispole on the Dingle Peninsula. A former music engineer at Ocean Recording Studios Dingle, he has worked with such acts as Nick Cave and Lloyd Cole. This month he reviews Radiohead's latest offering 'The King of Limbs' as part of a special series of music reviews for DingleNews.com.
It's been along time since I’ve been so excited with anticipation of not knowing what it’s going to be, in the maternity ward of music for the delivery of a new album. But that has been the case with ‘Radiohead’s’ new release “The King of Limbs”.
After their last album “In Rainbows”. Which I personally thought, was slightly disappointing, though one shouldn’t really complain, as it was free (ish)!
I awaited the new arrival with clinched teeth in the hope I could say they’ve returned to their finer selves. And so it is with congratulations I must commend Mr. Thom Yorke & company you’ve delivered a cracker! The band that brought us such brilliant albums as “Kid A” & “OK Computer” Have brought one out with a lot more electronica feel. A lack of electric guitar is noticeable and they used to use three!! With all the hype around it’s release is only available in digital download format at the moment with the physical package or what is being hailed the first “Newspaper Album” arriving in May, which will comprise of two clear 10 inch vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve, a CD and lots of artwork. Though at a hefty price of £33 sterling!!
It really emulates the approach of creating a lavish physical format that most loyal fans will feel the need to have to own, whatever it costs them. The album itself is unfortunately very short, with the 8 tracks coming in at a total running time of just 37 minutes! It’s is a good album but one has to persevere and not too give up on the first listen, as this one is a grower and so takes a few plays to appreciate it. It’s really mood music with a cool, understated jazzy percussion and grooves cloud of sound that really sets ‘The King of Limbs’ apart from previous Radiohead releases. Full of very lush and complex arrangements, which you’d only expect from the Oxford band. Thom Yorke’s vocals are as good as ever (mumbling and all!) and he uses his tender falsetto with reassuring phrases with perfect execution suggesting succor rather than dystopian paranoia throughout the 8 tracks.
The 2nd track “Morning Mr. Magpie” is brilliant as it shows the band’s feelings towards the whole recording industry or politicians. Well either way Thom Yorke isn’t happy with one of them!!!
The most radio friendly song is the single “Lotus Flower” with a video worth checking out. The rest is an album album, which to be honest is just fine, nice to see a band who really don’t care about the so called music singles chart, which I find to be full a lot of the time by hyped up wannabes. (Personal opinion!)
The song “codex” is my absolute favorite on the album with it’s sensitive sweet piano playing at a ballad pace accompanied by the harmonic sounds of horns and orchestra but not overkilling the piano just staying off in the distant as to barely intrude. Yorke’s vocal gentle and soothing as he asks the listener to join him as he dives into the clear waters. It’s full of optimism, which is great considering they once sounded like the last band still standing after the apocalypse!
The whole experience finishes with the mystical ballad “Separator” with its sexy drum loops throughout.
The album will definitely win some new fans for “Radiohead “. I’ve already heard some boy racers playing it through their souped up sub woofers! Which came as quite a shock!
Overall it’s an album of beguilingly beautiful songs written by a band that show no end in sight to their genius musical ability. A sonic story, you will want to hear again and again - 4* effort.