CD Review: The King of Limbs [2011]

Release: 2/2011

1. “Bloom – B+
2. “Morning Mr. Magpie” – B
3. “Little By Little” – A
4. “Feral” – C
5. “Lotus Flower” – B
6. “Codex” – B
7. “Give Up The Ghost” – B+
8. “Separator” – A

A quick examination of message boards and the like will reveal that this album isn’t universally agreed upon as excellent or anything like that. Three years ago, I was quite convinced that In Rainbows was fantastic (and that everyone thought similar), but upon reading plenty of diverse views, a lot of people suggested it was one of the band’s worst efforts. So here we are. From the start, I was struck with a Kid A vibe, something industrial and electronic. The drum beat sounds like machinery running. The bass line is pretty much kind of dub — I’ve seen it ‘post-dubstep’ thrown around, but what? — but that doesn’t really matter. It’s an ethereal song, perhaps best appreciated for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. It improves with listens, as you’ll gain new perspectives on exactly what is going on. Maybe the first time you missed the left panned vocals that precede each line of the last verse. “Morning” continues the tradition of very structured drum and bass and galactic environment. There’s nothing that makes the song a real standout, but it acts a pretty solid follow-up to “Bloom,” instrumentally at least. The rock ‘n’ roll side of Radiohead, which as of late has been accompanied by, at the minimum, a tiny bit of electronica, comes on strong in “Little By Little.” This tune matches up along side the standard fare of In Rainbows…just catchy, bullshit-lacking pieces of work. It’s always humorous how people interpret songs. On Song Meanings, a few people say it’s about corporate evil and greed (this is what we’d expect from Radiohead) while another equates “the one that broke the seal” to a dude who has had a lot to drink and needs to take a piss every ten minutes. As far instrumental, throw-away tracks, “Feral” isn’t too bad. It’s bad in terms of necessity/placement, but in the context of this LP, it somewhat works. We’ll settle for average. “Lotus Flower” and “Codex” are good, but are pretty in-differentiable if I had to say so myself. “Separator” is classic Radiohead, just a beautifully written song. The best on here, for sure. So at the end of this review, I must say a great ending followed an effective (but not the most captivating) mix of seven tunes. Good Radiohead, just not the best.

Grade: B (86)

Thee King of Limbs = Radiohead New Album

Cover art and release dates for an LP typically are announced a good two or three months before one can hear the damn thing so finding out about an (extremely popular band) album’s release five days before the actual day itself is pretty much unheard of. Radiohead has done some pretty unheard of things in the past and so here it is, their newest album coming in digital form on Saturday, February 19.