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Band – Radiohead
Album – The King Of The Limbs

“The King Of The Limbs” is the eight album from the English Alternative-rock band! With just 8 track and over 37 minutes of music this is the shortest album from Radiohead till date. The album falls into a limbo between a modern full length and an EP. Earlier commenting on the nature of  the future Radiohead releases, Yorke stated that “none of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again. Not straight off. I mean, it’s just become a real drag. It worked with In Rainbows because we had a real fixed idea about where we were going. But we’ve all said that we can’t possibly dive into that again. It’ll kill us.” It was stated that the album cover was inspired by the European Fairy tales

Album

Song Name Rating
Bloom ★★★☆☆
Morning Mr.Magpie ★★½☆☆
Little By Little ★★½☆☆
Feral ★★★☆☆
Lotus Flower ★★★★☆
Codex ★★★½☆
Give Up The Ghost ★★★★☆
Separator ★★★☆☆

From the past Radiohead’s albums have always been referred to as a grower: those kind of albums that wont strike you first but gets better with time. For example Kid A that had some umbrageous fanatics when it came out 11 years ago but eventually became a Cult hit! Therefore it would seem unwise to review their album just a few days after their release but I’ll do my best!

This album represents a severe attempt to create an acknowledged and tenacious unit of music but it manages to sit outside of the spectrum of their previous. It is one of their challenging albums and least dynamic too! It is dominated by angulate and jumbled beats which at times accounts for uneasy listening! In many ways, King of Limbs is a study in two parts – a skittering, free jazz first half followed by a ballad-based, reverb-soaked finish.

In this more rhythmic first half of the album, electronic percussion drops in heavily as usual, but also with heightened emphasis on drummer Phil’s uneven signatures. The once previously versatile band, meanwhile, feels like it has been reduced to an attenuated version of itself. The album doesn’t quite sound like its from the same band that ripped through “Bodysnatchers”; these guys play with a precise, almost scientific restraint that suits the edgy anxiety of these songs well.

Yorke’s lyrics have been as deviant as ever. “Morning Mr Magpie” is about the most singularly political song here – with cries of lyrics ‘you stole it all, give it back’, it will no doubt be taken as a comment on the bankers role in the financial crisis, on the other hand “Little By Little” sees the return of lust-filled Thom, previously seen on House Of Cards, as he sings “I’m such a tease, and you’re such a flirt”. Like the rest of the album, it’s disconcerting, but undeniably magnetic.

The album’s first single “Lotus Flower” is the pin on which the album pivots. But its unfair to view the album as two separate parts. Instead, I think it functions best as a progression, from the electronic battle of its genesis to the swirling guitars of its closing lines.

The album opens up on the introspective second side, as the rhythms recede and a more traditional song anatomy take over. “Lotus Flower”, the lead single reasonably for having a chorus and not being a ballad, finds Yorke singing a series of slippery hooks in gracefull and stridulous mode.It’s the last four tracks on The King Of Limbs that mark this out though as a special album. The elegant Codex is probably the standout track here that features smooth piano chords, long, plaintive horn trills, and Yorke at his most evocative.

Bloom –

This opening track announces radiohead’s returns with a scatter-shot sequence of chewed up drum loops and peeling horns that blend into a rhythmic tangle. This track is simultaneously weird and inviting.

Morning Mr. Magpie –

The lightness of the percussive drive seems to cross a kind of African marimba groove with an almost blues rock guitar chug, breaking down intermittently with flashes of south London dubstep ambience. The song  re-casts an old live acoustic ballad in a more anxious light, its once-sunny disposition frozen into an icy glare. In the song Yorke claims that the title character has stolen all the magic or took his melody.

Little By Little –

With its crumbling guitar shapes and clattering, fizzing percussion work, the track sounds dilapidated and rundown. One of my favourite song from the album. Even with reversed guitars and ghostly monk choruses humming deep in the background, there is a tenderness to this Radiohead’s song

Feral –

The track contorts Yorke’s voice into a reverb-infused, James Blake-like wriggle that pings around the stereo channel against a mulched up drum pattern that sounds sharper than glass.It is the guitars and vocals that keep the pulse of the song, rather than the chattering drums, which often stretch towards spiraling out of control.

Lotus Flower –

A beautiful single! The bass lopes elegantly over a gentle, loose limbed drum pattern. Yorke’s singing is light and mellifluous, almost floating above the groove. The track is unapologetic.

Codex –

A highlight from the album which sounds like a narcotized cousin to “Pyramid Song” that features woozily flanged piano chords, long, plaintive horn trills, and Yorke at his most evocative. Once Radiohead sounded like the last band standing after the apocalypse, but this has the lovely optimism and bold use of space as the most wide eyed future pop.

Give Up The Ghost –

The song is an acoustic, guitar-led call-and-response that finds him piling falsettos into a gorgeously ramshackle wall of harmony.Yorke bids us gather for a last stand, surrendering himself into the arms of a lover. It’s a beauty, whirring and clicking in the musical half light, a ghost in the (OK) computer.

Separator –

The last track sounds like a clear-eyed, mid-tempo finisher that amalgamates 1990s–era Radiohead with a touch of Neil Young-inspired guitar work and ends on a sweet and easy note that’s miles away from the complicated clatter it began with.The percussive flows is tip tap light, the minimalist bass carrying just the hint of a groove, while guitar notes fracture and multiply all around.If Radiohead are still a rock band, then no one has told them. This is something else entirely. The sound of the future calling.

So even with eight tracks worth your time to listen the album goes down as radiohead’s most divisive record! A run through the message boards and social networks leaves the mark that many disappointed fanatics are still struggling to make sense of the gap between the greatness of the thing they got and the genius of the thing they thought they might get. This was a well-worn terrain for Radiohead, and while it continues to yield rewarding results, the band’s signature game-changing ambition is missed. Radiohead are probably this generation’s best rock band. The King of Limbs is their low water mark.