SOUNDTRACK: RADIOHEAD-The King of Limbs (2011).
I finally had a chance to really listen to this CD and I have some mixed feeling about it. It doesn’t excite me as much as previous Radiohead releases have and yet, at the same time I can’t stop listening to it. But I find that I’m listening to it a lot as background music, so I haven’t been able to fully appreciate what’s happening on all the tracks. Now that I’ve really listened, my appreciation for the disc is higher, although I don’t find it as overall exciting as In Rainbows.
The opener, “Bloom” is a really spare song. And although I like it, there’s a part of me that wonders almost what’s the point of making an electronica song that is so spare when many others have done much the same. (It’s interesting to me that iTunes declares that this album is in the genre Electronica). Of course, with some closer listening, there are some interesting Radiohead things happening, but for me the album doesn’t really start until “Morning Mr. Magpie,” a wonderful weird little song with a great opening guitar riff and excellent use of noisy drumming. The drumming is really amazing. It seems to be off-beat and then it speeds up to get on the beat–in every line! Disorienting and compelling. But it’s the guitar, I think, that was really missing from the opener. (Of course, having said that I did like Radiohead’s previous forays into electronica that was sans guitar).
“Little By Little” proves that you can make a weird electronica song that is full of crazy noises and still have a supremely catchy chorus too. “Feral” is, as far as I can tell, an instrumental (there are lots of sounds that could be voices, but I’m not sure). It also features one of the great spooky keyboard type sound in a Radiohead song. Its pretty cool.
“Lotus Flower” is the “obvious” single from the disc (and the radio by me is actually playing it!). Even though it’s not radically different from the rest of the album, it stands out as the most melodic, the most catchy, the most, well, “single.” It’s really great.
“Codex” slows things down with, if not a traditional piano ballad, something of a traditional Radiohead piano ballad. My 5-year-old son made his first venture into music criticism when this song came on. He said: “Why are you listening to a sad song?” And when I asked if he liked sad songs he said, “No, sad songs make me feel sad.” This is a pretty sad song, but it has Thom Yorke’s vocals of redemption pulling through at the end, even while the song retains its sadness.
My son really liked “Give Up the Ghost” though. He said it sounding like the music at the end of a film, in fact, he was certain it was the music from the end of The Land Before Time movies. (That song is actually a James Horner song, sung by Diana Ross called “If We Hold On Together”).
The final song is a more drum filled track. Yet despite the manic percussion, the song itself is actually kind of mellow and slow. It’s pretty much a quintessential late Radiohead song. Clark’s final review came with this song: “I love this song! It sounds like someone bonking bananas on your head.” So there ya go.
So overall, I enjoy the album, but I don’t think it will have as much staying power for me as their other discs. It’s also surprisingly short (about 35 minutes–although just the other day they released two more tracks). However, having said that, I’ve since listened again, and I find that I notice something new with each listen, so maybe it will continue to grow and grow on me.
Two of the more interesting things on the album though are the liner notes. I can’t imagine what inspired, “A big thank you very much indeed to Drew Barrymore”. And I’m intrigued at “Fluegelhorn on “Bloom” and “Codex” performed by Noel Langley and Yazz Ahmed.” I’m intrigued that a) there is a fluegelhorn and b) that they needed two people!
[READ: April 10, 2011] The Universal Sigh
This “newspaper” was distributed at some record stores around the world as a tie-in to the new Radiohead album’s release in hard format. I found out about it from my friend Lar. He comments that he is too old to be hanging around in the streets waiting for this kind of titbit, and I couldn’t agree more. He is too old. As am I. So it’s nice that there’s a digital version of the paper available. (Remember when Radiohead snuck little things like this into the backs of their CD cases?)
Now just what is this thing? Well, it is a newspaper of sorts. There is a tenuous connection to Radiohead (in other words if you didn’t know they made it, you wouldn’t find out from looking at it). But the main focus seems to be environmental causes. (Which means that since I printed out the PDF, I have undermined the band’s intention of producing a low carbon footprint product–but hey at least I printed it double-sided). (more…)
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