Radiohead ‘The King of Limbs’ REVIEW…another disappointing lazy effort!
It’s been four years since Radiohead’s last “magnum mope-us”, the pay-what-you-want IN RAINBOWS.
You’d think that nearly half a decade would provide sufficient enough time to come up with something that could satiate the public’s rabid desire for a new direction from their favourite group… it didn’t have to be the next OK Computer (it would’ve been nice, but it didn’t have to be), but just not more of the same nebulous noodling of the last decade.
Well, in short, that didn’t happen…. Here’s the song-by-song break down:
Bloom: Simple and repetitive march beat underpinned by swirling organs, a nice clean sounding brass section weaving in an out and a few obligatory tape loops. Tuneless, but listenable.
Morning Mr. Magpie: They pick up the pace with a frenetically plucked chewy sounding guitar riff. Yorke seems to have awoken a little from his coma, spouting the lyrically aggressive, “You got some nerve coming here”. The drums work against the riff. It seems as if they’ve purposefully overcomplicated the rhythms for an anxiety-inducing effect. Again, long on repetition, short on melody.
Little by Little: The first song with something that could be construed a chord progression, albeit a minor one. Once again, they play with battling rhythm patterns: the guitars strum laboredly against an insistent high-hat beat, while Yorke incoherently wails, in his inimitable way.
Feral: The same beat continues, or at least it’s indiscernible from the prior track. This time, however, the guitars have dropped out and are replaced with some atmospheric synth noise which is every now and again punctuated by Yorke’s even more incoherent mumbling. No melody at all, unless you consider moaning a melody.
Lotus Flower: The beat mercifully switches up, after what seems like an eternity, but only slightly. Yorke actually sings something resembling a melody, backed by more loops and keyboards. This is the first track that has evoked some kind of emotion and would fit nicely as an incidental song in a neo-noir film.
Codex: Introduces the first real organic sounding instrument as the piano takes over as the main instrument on this one. Basically it’s a few minor chords, strengthened by that nice clean brass section sound again. It has a smoky echo-drenched feel, sounds kind of like a late 50s Miles Davis record played backwards.
Give up the Ghost: First (and only) appearance of an acoustic guitar liltingly strumming variations of the D chord. This time there is more than one vocal track, which are working against each other rhythmically, which seems to be one of the musical themes.
Separator: And so the album ends with yet another “song” comprised of a rhythmic pattern repeated ad nauseum, albeit this is one the strongest; sounding a little like a tiny squashed version of the Beatles, Tomorrow Never Knows”. Somewhere towards the middle a Wurlitzer piano and guitar come in, and for a moment you think this might be going somewhere, but alas it just drifts back in the ether again fading away like the rest of the tracks. Leaving the listener either in a deep sleep, a heavy mood or extremely bored…
These are not songs folks, at best these are soundscapes; recordings for a really boring film.
I know I’m going to get the usual shit from fanboys and girls spewing their usual “You just don’t get it!”, to which I say, ANYONE who defends this album doesn’t “get it”.
Because there’s nothing to get… except the emperor’s new clothes.
Radiohead was an extremely gifted band who produced two of the greatest rock albums of the last 20 years in The Bends and OK Computer and have been running away from those successes ever since for whatever their reason.
Maybe they’re afraid of coming up short if they actually sat down and tried to make a cohesive set of actual songs, or maybe, which is probably closer to the truth, their heads are just so far crammed up their collective asses that they don’t know any better.
They have become the miminalist painters of the late 60s-early 70s shitting out a few notes here and there and pronouncing it art, or rather their fans and adoring critics pronounce it art.
But my friends, this is not art… it’s fart. The gaseous over-intellectualized ramblings of a pathologically lazy band.
I know, I know… the usual suspects will call me a crass musical philistine, but this is just not the case… My ear is trained to the weird… I will listen to an hour of actual noise if it is interesting or composed creatively. Hell I’ve listened to ALL of Metal Machine Music… I’ve got the badge to prove it. It’s not that. What it is at the end of the day, is this is a boring repetitive album, and not in a good way.
It’s literally impossible not to be cynical after listening to it.
The only reason I’m rating it as high as I am is because conceptually it is consistent. They have removed themselves completely from every song and left a reduction of free floating elements working as one unmemorable noise.
The infuriating thing about it is the elements have the potential to be coalesced into something so, so much better. If only they had the guts to do so.