Feb. 19 marked the digital release of Radiohead’s eighth album “King of Limbs” on thekingoflimbs.com.
Radiohead’s “King of Limbs” doesn’t disappoint, despite being the group’s shortest album to date. It’s 37 minutes of melancholic exploration contains eight tracks worthy of the group’s legacy. The vocals of lead-singer, Thom Yorke, are spot-on throughout the album – a healthy alternative to the auto-tune-saturated industry we’re all accustomed to.
The album begins with “Bloom,” which engages you with pulsing piano chords enforced by Yorke. The rapid snare tattoo and bouncing xylophone playing add for a jazz-like entry. Yorke’s monkish chanting welcomes you solemnly to the album.
The snappy “Morning Mr. Magpie” strings out some nice guitar plucks and a smooth bass guitar for an upbeat tempo. When coupled with “Little by Little’s” dusty western guitar, Yorke’s vocals start to assume a haunting effect as if you stumbled into a saloon for the afterlife.
The album’s brief transitory instrumental, “Feral,” switches the mood with low and high brooding synths and mumbling vocals. It intensifies in a harmony of jazz time drums, cawing synths, and digitized inserts, reminiscent of “OK Computer,” one of the band’s most celebrated albums.
The transition eases into the album’s first single “Lotus Flower,” a song that funnels a placating bass guitar and a floating pair of drum beats. Radiohead’s vocals are the perfect vessel to send the listener adrift in the whirlwind of synths. His vaguely chosen lyrics allow you to make what you want of the song’s spiritual, sexual, or psychological meaning.
The next track, “Codex,” follows the steady calming rhythm of “Lotus Flower” with a forward stream of ambience in a river of Yorke’s classical piano chords and a floating pair of drum rhythms. Radiohead’s assuring vocals are the perfect comedown for the introduction to the conclusion of the album.
The album sets up for the coup de grace with “Give Up The Ghost’s” acoustic ambient track and minimalist lyrics with some existentialist subtext that’ll keep fans searching in a forest of meaning. The song opens with a recording of the forest where the tree the album is named after, “the King of Limbs,” resides, offering the keenest of listeners a hint.
King of Limb’s curtain closer, “Separator,” leaves with York’s somber but encouraged vocals. Verses are trailed off by a skidding echo of an outcry. York’s triumphant lyrics suggest the band’s strong streak of playing, “If you think that this is over then you’re wrong.”
Perfect for a cool-off from a tiresome day, “King of Limbs,” is one great 37-minute episode of Radiohead drifting. The physical CD with the 12” and copious amounts of art will be unleashed in March 28 and a newspaper edition May 9.
Those who have taken an interest in artists like Elvis Costello, Queen or Sonic Youth ought to give this album a listen. To fans of the genre and of the band, this album doesn’t disappoint, encouraging multiple listens – until the next album.