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Since the early 90’s with the debut of the song “Creep”, Radiohead has been consistently creating music that makes us all stop and scratch our heads, as if to say “Whatever it was that just happened… it’s strange but beautiful.” Their newest album, King of Limbs, is no exception.
At first listen, this album sounds just like any other Radiohead album: jazzy beats, random sounds being mixed of musical instruments (some easily recognizable, some not so much), Thom Yorke “singing” trippy lyrics. Just like every other Radiohead album, however, the more you listen to it, the more you begin to understand what they’re talking about.
[Sarah She1] The eight track album takes you into this same sort of euphoric dream state (in a way no one has truly made a successful career from since the days of Pink Floyd). All the while, a crazy little African beat is play in the background. It holds your hand, leading you down a path created from stories of seduction, betrayal and the end of the world; Yorke’s classic mumble-voice as your tour guide. It is a trip and a half.
King of Limbs blooms, literally. The first song of the album, entitled “Bloom”, gives the album a nice start. There is a pretty crazy drum beat that makes you want to close your eyes and try to picture what’s going on. “Open your mouth wide / a universal sigh,” cries Yorke, and from there, the song builds into some crazy ocean scene that includes jellyfish “floating by”.
What does it bloom into? A “Lotus Flower”, the fifth song on the album, and the album’s single. What starts off as a quiet little song, it gently builds into beautiful song about letting go. As Yorke coos in what can be best described as a chorus, “There’s an empty space inside my heart / Where the weeds take root / Tonight I’ll set you free / I’ll set you free / Slowly we unfurl as lotus flowers.” This song is also a perfect example of how Radiohead can manipulate you to feel a certain way, just by the use of sound.
If you’re looking for an even mellower song (as if Radiohead isn’t already pretty mellow), try “Codex” on for size. It’s slow and mostly composed of a nice piano accompaniment. It sounds like some sort of lullaby, and is just overall a work of art.
They are also manipulating their fans into utter chaos and confusion. With the release of this album, a flood gate of questions has burst open. In the last song on the album, the listener is told “if you think this is over, then you’re wrong.” Considering the whole album is only 38 minutes long (and as mentioned before, only eight songs), many Radiohead fans are left to believe that there will be another album coming out soon to finish up where King of Limbs started, or that this could be a prelude to something bigger. Although the band has publicly stated that there is not another album coming out anytime soon, it’s somewhat hard to believe. King of Limbs had minimal hype surrounding it, basically because no one really knew if and when it was coming, a pretty sketchy move for a band as popular as Radiohead.
Radiohead has come a long way since their Pablo Honey days, and this album just goes to show that. What they’re doing is somewhat ground-breaking, even for them. Although you may not notice at first listen, their sound has matured. Set all preconceived notions aside, check your comparative tendencies at the door (NOTHING will ever be the new “Nude”) and see what kind of court the King of Limbs is keeping.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/michellzappa/