Friday, 29 July 2011

Album review: RADIOHEAD - The King Of Limbs

Highlights: Little By Little, Lotus Flower, Codex

Whatever you might think of The King Of Limbs, you just have to admire their cheek. Just as everyone was expecting a masterpiece on par with In Rainbows, Radiohead release this humble, (almost) unpretentious collection of 8 (!) songs that don’t even reach the 40-minute mark. A trick close to the one they pulled back in 2000 with the release of Kid A (initially not much loved either) after OK Computer.

Except that The King Of Limbs is more of an Amnesiac. A worthy but totally unambitious affair that knows it won’t match the expectations and so won’t even try. Sonically, the closest thing to TKOL would be the disjointed atmosphere and the pulsating electro-beats of Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser. Sometimes it’s just atmosphere (“Feral” is expendable, but the lethargic, piano-based “Codex” is a standout), but sometimes they don’t forget to put a good tune into the background (“Little By Little”; “Lotus Flower”, which has one of the strongest vocal melodies I’ve heard all year). Vocally and instrumentally the band is in good form – even though Johnny Greenwood’s guitar is severely underrepresented.

Perhaps the best thing about this LP (and the same holds true for the majority of Radiohead’s albums) is that it improves upon further listens. Still, there’s no escaping from the fact that The King Of Limbs is one of the band’s weakest efforts. And for once the answer is quite simple: the songs are just not that good. Even though those saving graces just keep popping up like crazy...


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